House of cards. Foundation being taken out. U.S. ISM Services Index Fell to 54.3 Last Month From 59 By Shobhana Chandra http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a3ol67o3P4eU&refer=home March 5 (Bloomberg) -- Service industries in the U.S. expanded last month at a slower rate than forecast, suggesting the housing slump is filtering through to other parts of the economy. The Institute for Supply Management's index of non- manufacturing businesses including banking, construction and retailing fell to 54.3 in February from 59 in January, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said. Readings above 50 point to growth in services, which make up almost 90 percent of the economy. Stagnant property prices are making it harder for owners to get cash from gains in home equity. The report may cast doubt on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's forecast last week that growth is likely to pick up as the year progresses. ``The downtrend in home prices threatens consumer borrowing and consumer spending as a whole,'' Avery Shenfeld, a senior economist at CIBC World Markets Inc. in Toronto, said before the report. ``People recognize now that housing is not yet stabilizing.'' In Europe, services grew at a slower pace in February after a sales-tax increase dented consumer spending in Germany. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc's services index fell to 57.5 last month from 57.9 in January. The ISM index was expected to fall to 57.1, the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 68 economists. Estimates ranged from 55 to 59.5. The index has averaged 57.8 since its inception in July 1997.