updated 10/3/2008 11:46:10 AM ET 2008-10-03T15:46:10

Educational services, farms, utilities, stores and hospitals all saw their businesses expand in September, thanks to strong exports and deliveries, a private research group’s survey showed Friday.

Major Market Indices

The reading of 50.2 from the Institute for Supply Management was down from 50.6 in August. A reading above 50 signals growth.

It beat economists’ prediction of a reading of 50.0, according to the consensus estimate of Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

Monday’s manufacturing report by the same organization showed the worst reading since October 2001, following the Sept. 11 attacks, and economists called it a sign of recession.

According to the services report, which is based on a survey of the institute’s members, educational services, agriculture, utilities, retail and health care are growing, while restaurants, real estate and wholesale are contracting.

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