By Joshua Jamerson

Activity in the U.S. service sector remained solid in December, according to a report on Thursday that suggested a robust rise in service sector payrolls.

Markit Economics' services purchasing managers index declined to 53.9 in December from 54.6 in November. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a reading of 53.5. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.

The rate of job creation was the fastest since late-2015, the report stated, and survey respondents linked the ongoing expansion plans to rising confidence regarding the business outlook. December data signaled a further rebound in business optimism.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit said while that the pace of business activity growth in the services and manufacturingsectors lost momentum in December, conditions remained one of the strongest seen over the past year.

"The only real blot on the copybook was that prices charged showed the steepest rise for one and a half years, which could feed through to reduced consumption," Mr. Williamson said.

Write to Joshua Jamerson at joshua.jamerson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 05, 2017 10:30 ET (15:30 GMT)

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