(Reuters) - Service sector activity growth slowed in September, but other data on Wednesday showed private employment up modestly for the month, suggesting that overall the economic recovery is sluggish.
Service sector activity slowed as a contraction in employment eclipsed a jump in new orders, but a second report showed private-sector employers overall added more jobs than expected, while a third report showed a jump in planned layoffs in the month.
"Beneath the surface, it's actually a fairly mixed report," said Tom Porcelli, chief economist, at RBC Capital Markets, in New York.
"The hard data are not pointing toward a recession yet. Financial markets are telling you a completely different story. Copper, equities, Treasuries -- they're all pointing in the direction of a downturn."
The data comes ahead of Friday's monthly report on total U.S. nonfarm payrolls from the U.S. Labor Department which is expected to see a gain of 60,000 payrolls last month, according to a Reuters survey, after being unchanged in August.