Business news

Service companies grow at slow pace


WASHINGTON — Service companies, which employ 90 percent of the U.S. work force, expanded at a slower pace in November and a measure of employment at those firms fell.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of service sector activity dropped to 52 from 52.9 in October. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. The sector has grown for two years. But 52 was the lowest reading since January 2010.

Factory orders fall for second month

WASHINGTON — Companies decreased their overall orders to U.S. factories in October for the second straight month.

The Commerce Department said Monday that total factory orders fell 0.4 percent. September’s modest 0.3 percent increase was also revised to a 0.1 percent drop.

Demand for so-called core capital goods, a good proxy for business investment plans, fell 0.8 percent.

Rule restricts use of investor money

WASHINGTON — A federal rule adopted Monday places tighter restrictions on how U.S. trading firms can invest customers’ money. It comes amid a federal investigation into whether MF Global illegally tapped clients’ accounts before filing for bankruptcy.

The rule prohibits firms from using money from customer accounts for purchases of foreign debt and limits how much of their money can be invested in money-market mutual funds.