ISM Non-Manufacturing: September Highest Since 2005

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the September Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 59.8 percent, up 4.5 from 55.3 last month and its highest since August 2005. Today's number came in above the Investing.com forecast of 55.5 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 59.8 percent, which is 4.5 percentage points higher than the August reading of 55.3 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster rate. This is the highest reading since August 2005 when the index registered 61.3 percent. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 61.3 percent, 3.8 percentage points higher than the August reading of 57.5 percent, reflecting growth for the 98th consecutive month, at a faster rate in September. The New Orders Index registered 63 percent, 5.9 percentage points higher than the reading of 57.1 percent in August. The Employment Index increased 0.6 percentage point in September to 56.8 percent from the August reading of 56.2 percent. The Prices Index increased substantially by 8.4 percentage points from the August reading of 57.9 percent to 66.3 percent, indicating prices increased in September for the fourth consecutive month. This is the highest reading since February 2012 when the index registered 67.6 percent. According to the NMI®, 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. The non-manufacturing sector has reflected strong growth in the month of September despite the impact on the supply chain from the recent hurricanes. Respondents’ comments indicate a good outlook for business conditions." [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 61.3 percent is up 3.8 percent from a seasonally adjusted 57.5 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.