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The Institute for Supply Management's index of U.S. service-sector activity has managed to put a mildly positive shine on U.S. stocks mid-morning. Which is fitting, because the ISM report itself was just that - mildly positive.

The ISM non-manufacturing index came in at 50.1, up from 48.7 last month. More importantly, the figure inched above the 50 mark - anything above 50 indicates expansion, anything below 50 implies contraction.

In response, the Dow Jones industrial average - which had been down about 25 points shortly before the report was released - turned upward and was as much as 20 points into positive territory.

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However, as investors have taken a closer look at the report's retails, stocks have pulled back, and the Dow was flat at 10:40 a.m. Despite the index's return to growth territory, its new-orders and exports components both took a dip, and the employment component remains in contraction mode.

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