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ISM Non-Manufacturing: October Growth at Faster Rate

November 4, 2015

by Jill Mislinski

Today the Institute for Supply Management published its latest Non-Manufacturing Report. The headline NMI Composite Index is at 59.1 percent, up 2.2 percent from last month's 56.9 percent. Today's number came in above the forecast of 56.5 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 59.1 percent in October, 2.2 percentage points higher than the September reading of 56.9 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 63 percent, which is 2.8 percentage points higher than the September reading of 60.2 percent, reflecting growth for the 75th consecutive month at a faster rate. The New Orders Index registered 62 percent, 5.3 percentage points higher than the reading of 56.7 percent in September. The Employment Index increased 0.9 percentage point to 59.2 percent from the September reading of 58.3 percent and indicates growth for the 20th consecutive month. The Prices Index increased 0.7 percentage point from the September reading of 48.4 percent to 49.1 percent, indicating prices decreased in October for the second consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 14 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in October. After the slight cooling off in September, the non-manufacturing sector reflected growth across most of the indexes. Respondents remain mostly positive about business conditions and the overall economy."

Unlike its much older kin, the ISM Manufacturing Series, there is relatively little history for ISM's Non-Manufacturing data, especially for the headline Composite Index, which dates from 2008. The chart below shows Non-Manufacturing Composite. We have only a single recession to gauge is behavior as a business cycle indicator.

The more interesting and useful subcomponent is the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index. The latest data point at 63.0 percent is up from 60.2 the previous month.

ISM Non-Manufacturing

For a diffusion index, this can be an extremely volatile indicator, hence the addition of a six-month moving average to help us visualizing the short-term trends.

Theoretically, this indicator should become more useful as the timeframe of its coverage expands. Manufacturing may be a more sensitive barometer than Non-Manufacturing activity, but we are increasingly a services-oriented economy, which explains our intention to keep this series on the radar.

Here is a table showing trend in the underlying components.

Here is a link to our coverage of the latest ISM Manufacturing report.

Note: We use the FRED USRECP series (Peak through the Period preceding the Trough) to highlight the recessions in the charts above. For example, the NBER dates the last cycle peak as December 2007, the trough as June 2009 and the duration as 18 months. The USRECP series thus flags December 2007 as the start of the recession and May 2009 as the last month of the recession, giving us the 18-month duration. The dot for the last recession in the charts above are thus for November 2007. The "Peak through the Period preceding the Trough" series is the one FRED uses in its monthly charts, as illustrated here.