The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the April Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 57.5 percent, up 2.3 from 55.2 last month. Today's number came in above the Investing.com forecast of 55.8 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 57.5 percent, which is 2.3 percentage points higher than the March reading of 55.2 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 62.4 percent, 3.5 percentage points higher than the March reading of 58.9 percent, reflecting growth for the 93rd consecutive month, at a faster rate in April. The New Orders Index registered 63.2 percent, 4.3 percentage points higher than the reading of 58.9 percent in March. The Employment Index decreased 0.2 percentage point in April to 51.4 percent from the March reading of 51.6 percent. The Prices Index increased 4.1 percentage points from the March reading of 53.5 percent to 57.6 percent, indicating prices increased for the 13th consecutive month, at a faster rate in April. According to the NMI®, 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. In April the non-manufacturing sector reflected strong growth after a slowing in the rate from the previous month. Respondents’ comments are mostly positive about 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 62.4 percent is up 3.5 percent from a seasonally adjusted 58.9 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.