ISM Non-Manufacturing: Continued Growth at Slower Rate in May

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the May Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 56.9 percent, down 0.6 from 57.5 last month. Today's number came in fractionally below the Investing.com forecast of 57.0 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 56.9 percent, which is 0.6 percentage point lower than the April reading of 57.5 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slightly slower rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 60.7 percent, 1.7 percentage points lower than the April reading of 62.4 percent, reflecting growth for the 94th consecutive month, at a slower rate in May. The New Orders Index registered 57.7 percent, 5.5 percentage points lower than the reading of 63.2 percent in April. The Employment Index increased 6.4 percentage points in May to 57.8 percent from the April reading of 51.4 percent. The Prices Index decreased 8.4 percentage points from the April reading of 57.6 percent to 49.2 percent, indicating prices decreased in May for the first time after 13 consecutive months of increasing. According to the NMI®, 17 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. Although the non-manufacturing sector’s growth rate dipped in May, the sector continues to reflect strength, buoyed by the strong rate of growth in the Employment Index. The majority of respondents’ comments continue to indicate optimism 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 60.7 percent is down 1.7 percent from a seasonally adjusted 62.4 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 visualize 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.