ISM Non-Manufacturing: Growth Strong in October, Highest Since Inception

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the October Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 60.1 percent, up 0.3 from 59.8 last month and its highest since inception. Today's number came in above the forecast of 58.5 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 60.1 percent, which is 0.3 percentage point higher than the September reading of 59.8 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slightly faster rate. This is the highest NMI® reading since the index’s debut in 2008. The highest reading among pre-2008 composite index calculations is 61.3 percent in August 2005. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 62.2 percent, 0.9 percentage point higher than the September reading of 61.3 percent, reflecting growth for the 99th consecutive month, at a slightly faster rate in October. The New Orders Index registered 62.8 percent, 0.2 percentage point lower than the reading of 63 percent in September. The Employment Index increased 0.7 percentage point in October to 57.5 percent from the September reading of 56.8 percent. The Prices Index decreased by 3.6 percentage points from the September reading of 66.3 percent to 62.7 percent, indicating prices increased in October for the fifth consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. The non-manufacturing sector has reflected the third consecutive month of strong growth. Respondent comments continue to indicate a positive outlook for business conditions, and the economy as we begin the fourth quarter." [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 62.2 percent is up 0.9 percent from a seasonally adjusted 61.3 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 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.