ISM Non-Manufacturing: Growth Inches Down in January

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the January Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 56.5 percent, down from 56.6 last month. Today's number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 57.0 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 56.5 percent which is 0.1 percentage point lower than the seasonally adjusted December reading of 56.6. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slightly slower rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 60.3 percent, 0.6 percentage point lower than the seasonally adjusted December reading of 60.9 percent, reflecting growth for the 90th consecutive month, at a slightly slower rate in January. The New Orders Index registered 58.6 percent, 2.1 percentage points lower than the seasonally adjusted reading of 60.7 percent in December. The Employment Index increased 2 percentage points in January to 54.7 percent from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 52.7 percent. The Prices Index increased 2.9 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 56.1 percent to 59 percent; indicating prices increased for the 10th consecutive month, at a faster rate in January. According to the NMI®, 12 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in January. The non-manufacturing sector begins 2017 with a cooling-off in the rate of growth month-over-month. The sector still reflects strong growth. Respondents' comments are mixed indicating both optimism and a degree of uncertainty in the business outlook as a result of the change in government administration." [Source]

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 60.3 percent is down 0.6 percent from a seasonally adjusted 60.9 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 time frame 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 the trend in the underlying components.

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