The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the February Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), also known as the ISM Services PMI. The headline Composite Index is at 59.5 percent, down 0.4 from 59.9 last month. Today's number came in above the forecast of 58.9 percent.

Here is the report summary:

"The NMI® registered 59.5 percent, which is 0.4 percentage point lower than the January reading of 59.9 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slightly slower rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 62.8 percent, 3 percentage points higher than the January reading of 59.8 percent, reflecting growth for the 103rd consecutive month, at a faster rate in February. The New Orders Index registered 64.8 percent, 2.1 percentage points higher than the reading of 62.7 percent in January. The Employment Index decreased 6.6 percentage points in February to 55 percent from the January reading of 61.6 percent. The Prices Index decreased by 0.9 percentage point from the January reading of 61.9 percent to 61 percent, indicating that prices increased in February for the 24th consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. The non-manufacturing sector reflected the second consecutive month of strong growth in February. The decrease in the Employment Index possibly prevented an even stronger reading for the NMI®composite index. The majority of respondents’ continue to be positive about business conditions and 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 62.8 percent is up 3.0 from a seasonally adjusted 59.8 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.

We will publish our next ISM Non-Manufacturing report on April 4.