ISM Non-Manufacturing: Continued Growth in February

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the February Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 57.6 percent, up 1.1 from 56.5 last month. Today's number came in above the forecast of 56.5 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 57.6 percent, which is 1.1 percentage points higher than the January reading of 56.5 percent. This is the highest reading since October 2015 and represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slightly faster rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 63.6 percent, 3.3 percentage points higher than the January reading of 60.3 percent, which is the highest reading since February 2011, when the index registered 63.8 percent, reflecting growth for the 91st consecutive month, at a faster rate in February. The New Orders Index registered 61.2 percent, 2.6 percentage points higher than the reading of 58.6 percent in January. This is the highest reading since August 2015, when the index registered 62.7 percent. The Employment Index increased 0.5 percentage point in February to 55.2 percent from the January reading of 54.7 percent. The Prices Index decreased 1.3 percentage points from the January reading of 59 percent to 57.7 percent, indicating prices increased for the 11th consecutive month, at a slower rate in February. According to the NMI®, 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in February. The non-manufacturing sector reflected strong growth in February after cooling off in January. Respondents’ comments continue to be mixed, with some uncertainty; however, the majority indicate a positive outlook on business conditions and the overall economy." [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 63.6 percent is up 3.3 percent from a seasonally adjusted 60.3 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.