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posted on 06 September 2017

August 2017 ISM and Markit Services Improved.

Written by Steven Hansen

The ISM non-manufacturing (aka ISM Services) index continues its growth cycle and improved. Markit PMI Services Index improved also.

Analyst Opinion of the ISM and Markit Services Survey

Both services surveys are modestly in expansion and improved this month.

From Bloomberg / Econoday:

Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Markit Services 54.6 to 56.9 56.9 56.0
ISM Services 53.8 to 56.5 55.4 55.3

From Markit:

Business activity growth hits 21-month high

  • Sharp increase in activity
  • New business expands at strongest rate since July 2015
  • Employment rises at quickest pace for nearly two years
  • August data signalled an accelerated upturn in business activity across the US service sector. New orders also expanded at a quicker rate, with growth reaching a 25-month high. Higher activity and new business prompted firms to add to their payrolls again in August, and at the quickest rate for nearly two years. On the prices front, both input costs and output charges increased again, with rates of inflation reaching 26- and 35-month highs, respectively. Meanwhile, business confidence was the strongest since January, with firms encouraged by greater client demand.
  • The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit U.S. Services Business Activity Index registered 56.0 in August, up from July's reading of 54.7. The latest survey extended the current sequence of activity growth to 18 months. Moreover, the upturn was the fastest since November 2015, with a number of panellists stating that higher activity was underpinned by a greater willingness to spend among clients and improving market conditions.


From the ISM Services report:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in August for the 92nd 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 55.3 percent, which is 1.4 percentage points higher than the July reading of 53.9 percent. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster rate. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 57.5 percent, 1.6 percentage points higher than the July reading of 55.9 percent, reflecting growth for the 97th consecutive month, at a faster rate in August. The New Orders Index registered 57.1 percent, 2 percentage points higher than the reading of 55.1 percent in July. The Employment Index increased 2.6 percentage points in August to 56.2 percent from the July reading of 53.6 percent. The Prices Index increased 2.2 percentage points from the July reading of 55.7 percent to 57.9 percent, indicating prices increased in August for the third consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 15 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. The non-manufacturing sector has rebounded from the prior month's cooling-off period. The majority of respondents are optimistic about business conditions going forward."


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

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 improved 1.6 points and now is at 57.5.

ISM Services - Business Activity Sub-Index

The New Orders Index improved 2.0 and is currently at 57.1.

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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