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posted on 03 August 2017

July 2017 ISM and Markit Services Continue to Show Expansion.

Written by Steven Hansen

The ISM non-manufacturing (aka ISM Services) index continues its growth cycle but declined. Markit PMI Services Index modestly improved.

Analyst Opinion of the ISM and Markit Services Survey

Both services surveys are modestly in expansion - but the trends are different.

From Bloomberg / Econoday:

Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Markit Services 54.0 to 56.8 54.2 54.7
ISM Services 55.0 to 57.6 56.9 53.9

From Markit:

Business activity growth accelerates further in June

  • Solid increase in business activity
  • New business expands at quickest rate for two years
  • Workforce numbers increase at fastest pace in 2017 so far
  • July survey data signalled a solid expansion in business activity among US service providers. New orders received by firms increased at the fastest pace for two years, which in turn contributed to a stronger rise in backlogs of work. As a result, firms increased their staff numbers at the quickest pace since last December. At the same time, inflationary pressures remained relatively strong, and business confidence suggestive of ongoing expansion in coming months.
  • The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit U.S. Services Business Activity Index registered 54.7 in July, up from 54.2 in June. The latest reading signalled the largest expansion of business activity since January and the fourth consecutive month of accelerated growth. Despite being marginally below the longrun series average, the latest upturn in activity was solid overall.


From the ISM Services report:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in July for the 91st consecutive month, say the nation's purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The report was issued today by Anthony Nieves, CPSM, C.P.M., A.P.P., CFPM, Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee: "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."


The 15 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in July — listed in order — are: Accommodation & Food Services; Information; Educational Services; Other Services; Utilities; Public Administration; Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade; Mining; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Construction; Transportation &Warehousing; Health Care & Social Assistance; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Finance & Insurance. The two industries reporting contraction in July are: Management of Companies &Support Services; and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting.

There are two sub-indexes in the ISM Services which have good correlations to the economy - the Business Activity Index and the New Orders Index - both have good track records in spotting an incipient recession - both remaining in territories associated with expansion.

This index and its associated sub-indices are fairly volatile.

The Business Activity sub-index declined 4.9 points and now is at 55.9.

ISM Services - Business Activity Sub-Index

The New Orders Index declined 5.4 and is currently at 55.1.

The complete ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing survey table is below.

z pmiservices.png

Econintersect does give serious consideration to this survey as the service sector accounts for 80% of the economy and 90% of employment. However, this an opinion survey and is not hard data.

Caveats on the use of ISM Non-Manufacturing Index:

This is a survey, a quantification of opinion. However, as pointed out above, certain elements of this survey have good to excellent correlation to the economy for as long as it has been in existence. Surveys lead hard data by weeks to months, and can provide early insight into changing conditions.

The main ISM non-manufacturing index (NMI) is so new that it does not have enough data history to have reliable certainty about how it correlates to the economy. Again, two sub-indices (business activity and new orders) do have good correlation for the limited history available.

No survey is accurate in projecting employment - and the ISM Non-Manufacturing Employment Index is no exception. Although there are some general correlation in trends if you stand far enough back from this graph, month-to-month movements have not correlated well with the BLS Service Sector Employment data.

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