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

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the July Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 53.9 percent, down 3.5 from 57.4 last month. Today's number came in below the forecast of 59.6 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 53.9 percent, which is 3.5 percentage points lower than the June reading of 57.4 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slower rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 55.9 percent, 4.9 percentage points lower than the June reading of 60.8 percent, reflecting growth for the 96th consecutive month, at a slower rate in July. The New Orders Index registered 55.1 percent, 5.4 percentage points lower than the reading of 60.5 percent in June. The Employment Index decreased 2.2 percentage points in July to 53.6 percent from the June reading of 55.8 percent. The Prices Index increased 3.6 percentage points from the June reading of 52.1 percent to 55.7 percent, indicating prices increased in July for the second consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. The non-manufacturing sector did not sustain the previous rate of growth and cooled-off in July. The majority of respondents’ comments were mostly positive about business conditions and the state of the 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 55.9 percent is down 4.9 percent from a seasonally adjusted 60.8 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.