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ISM Non-Manufacturing: PMI Down Slightly in July, Continued Growth

August 3, 2016

by Jill Mislinski

Today the Institute for Supply Management published its latest Non-Manufacturing Report. The headline NMI Composite Index is at 55.5 percent, down 1.0 percent from last month's seasonally adjusted 56.5 percent. Today's number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 56.0 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 55.5 percent in July, 1 percentage point lower than the June reading of 56.5 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slower rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 59.3 percent, 0.2 percentage point lower than the June reading of 59.5 percent, reflecting growth for the 84th consecutive month, at a slightly slower rate in July. The New Orders Index registered 60.3 percent, 0.4 percentage point higher than the reading of 59.9 percent in June. The Employment Index decreased 1.3 percentage points in July to 51.4 percent from the June reading of 52.7 percent. The Prices Index decreased 3.6 percentage points from the June reading of 55.5 percent to 51.9 percent, indicating prices increased in July for the fourth consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in July. The majority of the respondents’ comments reflect stability and continued growth for their respective companies and a positive outlook on the 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 59.3 percent is down 0.2 from a seasonally adjusted 59.5 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.