US service industries took a staggering and unexpected plunge in January, contracting at a pace not seen since the last recession. In today’s non-manufacturing report, which leaked nearly an hour early, the index plummeted from 54.4 to 41.9, far more than the 53 analysts forecast. Stocks fell broadly as a result.
“This is a stunning fall,” one economist told Bloomberg. “If accurate, it’s dire news on the economy.” America isn’t alone: Europe’s service industries look headed the same way. They recorded their slowest growth since 2003 in a separate report released today, which one European economist called “a shocker.”