The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the January Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 59.9 percent, up 3.9 from 56.0 last month. Today's number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 56.5 percent. Annual revisions were made.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 59.9 percent, which is 3.9 percentage points higher than the seasonally adjusted December reading of 56 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 59.8 percent, 2 percentage points higher than the seasonally adjusted December reading of 57.8 percent, reflecting growth for the 102nd consecutive month, at a faster rate in January. The New Orders Index registered 62.7 percent, 8.2 percentage points higher than the seasonally adjusted reading of 54.5 percent in December. The Employment Index increased 5.3 percentage points in January to 61.6 percent from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 56.3 percent. The Prices Index increased by 2 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 59.9 percent to 61.9 percent, indicating that prices increased in January for the 23rd consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. The non-manufacturing sector reflected strong growth in January after two consecutive months of pullback. Overall, the majority of respondents’ comments are positive about business conditions and the economy. They also indicated that recent tax changes have had a positive impact on their respective businesses." [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 59.8 percent is up 2.0 percent from a seasonally adjusted 57.8 the previous month. Revisions were made going back to October.

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.