Service sector's expansion picks up pace in November

The index is a survey of a wide variety of businesses — the sector employs 90 percent of all workers, including those employed at restaurants, hotels and retailers.

Business activity accelerated to 61.2 from 55.4 in October and new orders rose to 58.1, up 3.3 percentage points. 

Employers added jobs for the fourth consecutive month but at a slower pace.

A separate report showed that that the private sector added 118,000 jobs last month, although that is 86,000 fewer people than would have been hired if it weren't for Hurricane Sandy, according to the ADP National Employment Report released Wednesday. 

The service sector added the bulk of the jobs — 114,000 last month. 

In November, prices increased at a much slower pace, down 8.6 percentage points to 57.

A separate report produced by the government on Friday is expected to show that employers hired 100,000 workers, less than they would have without Hurricane Sandy. 

Service companies have contributed heavily to job gains this year.

In another positive economic report, factory orders were up 0.8 percent in October, a reflection of businesses intentions to pick up their investment, even despite an impasse between the White House and congressional leaders over tax and spending issues.