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Morning Market Roundup: Service Firms Up, Oil Down, AA Union Talks Resume

Morning Market Roundup: Service Firms Up, Oil Down, AA Union Talks Resume

Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

U.S. Service Firms: U.S. service companies, which employ nearly 90 percent of the work force, grew in September, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

The ISM said Wednesday that its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 55.1, up from 53.7 in August. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The report measures growth in a broad range of businesses from retail and construction companies to health care and financial services firms. The service sector has grown for 33 straight months, based on the ISM survey.

A measure of current sales activity jumped to 59.9, up from 55.6 in August. And a gauge of new orders rose to 57.7, up from 53.7 in August.

Stronger growth at service firms coincided with an increase in U.S. factory activity in September. A separate ISM survey released Monday showed manufacturing grew last month for the first time in four months, also driven by a sharp jump in new orders, a report TheBlaze addressed earlier.

American Airlines & Unions: American Airlines and its pilots' union have agreed to resume stalled contract negotiations. The union also said Tuesday that it will delay releasing results of a strike-authorization vote scheduled to end Wednesday.

The developments could lead to a breakthrough in a bitter standoff between the nation's third-biggest airline and its 7,500 active pilots. Thomas Horton, CEO of American parent AMR Corp., which is operating under bankruptcy protection, said Tuesday he was pleased that "intensive bargaining" was scheduled to begin this week.

Horton said that AMR has finished most of its financial restructuring and is steadily returning to profitability. This despite "a very challenging couple of weeks for our company," he said. Noting that American's other unions agreed to new contracts, he said a deal with pilots was an important step for the company.

In a message to Allied Pilots Association members, union spokesman Gregg Overman said the group would seek "an industry-standard contract."

Oil: The price of oil fell to near $91 on Wednesday over concerns about an economic slowdown in Europe, China and the U.S.

Benchmark oil was down 72 cents to $91.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 59 cents to end at $91.89 per barrel in New York on Tuesday.

Slower growth in China, which is a huge importer of oil, has also kept a lid on oil prices. Slower growth can cut demand for oil and other energy products.

U.S. Stocks: Stocks are mostly higher in early trading on Wall Street Wednesday after a measure of private sector hiring came in better than economists were expecting.

The gains were held in check by a slump in energy stocks, which fell as the price of crude oil dropped sharply.

The Dow Jones was up 18 points at 13,498 shortly after 10 a.m. Chevron was the Dow's laggard, sinking $1.16 to $116.81.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points to 1,448 while the Nasdaq composite index rose 10 points to 3,130.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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