The nation's service sector grew in December, but at a pace slightly slower than the month before. The latest figures provided more evidence...

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NEW YORK — The nation’s service sector grew in December, but at a pace slightly slower than the month before.

The latest figures provided more evidence that the nation’s economy is weakening because of higher oil prices and a tight credit market.

The Institute for Supply Management, a business group based in Tempe, Ariz., said Friday that its index measuring performance in non-manufacturing industries slipped to 53.9 in December from 54.1 in November. It was the lowest reading since 52.4 in March.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below 50 shows contraction.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson/IFR had expected a slightly lower reading for December.

Anthony Nieves, chairman of the institute’s business survey committee, said in a statement accompanying the report that respondents “remain concerned about the economy.”