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posted on 05 January 2018

December 2017 ISM and Markit Services Decline

Written by Steven Hansen

The ISM non-manufacturing (aka ISM Services) index continues its growth cycle but marginally declined. Markit PMI Services Index also declined but remains in expansion.

Analyst Opinion of the ISM and Markit Services Survey

Both services surveys are in expansion - but both declined indicating a slowing service sector.

From Bloomberg / Econoday:

Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Markit Services 52.4 to 52.6 52.4 53.7
ISM Services 56.5 to 58.0 57.6 55.9

From Markit:

Business activity growth softens to seven-month low in December

  • Slower expansion in business activity in December
  • Upturn in new orders remains relatively strong
  • Business confidence slips further to a 15-month low
  • December data signalled a solid, but softer expansion in business activity across the US service sector. Moreover, the latest upturn eased to a seven-month low. In line with the trend in output, the rate of growth in new business volumes softened slightly. Meanwhile, backlogs continued to rise and the latest expansion was the fastest for four months. Another solid rise in employment levels was linked to greater capacity pressures. On the price front, both input cost and charge inflation eased slightly. In line with softer business activity growth, the degree of optimism in the sector dipped to a 15-month low
  • The seasonally adjusted final IHS Markit U.S. Services Business Activity Index registered 53.7 in December, down from 54.5 in November. The latest index was higher than the earlier 'flash' reading (52.4) and indicated a solid increase in business activity at US service providers. A number of panel members suggested the upturn was due to greater client demand and increased new order volumes. However, the overall rate of activity growth was the weakest since May and below the series trend.

z%20markit_services.png

From the ISM Services report:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in December for the 96th 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 55.9 percent, which is 1.5 percentage points lower than the November 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 57.3 percent, 4.1 percentage points lower than the November reading of 61.4 percent, reflecting growth for the 101st consecutive month, at a slower rate in December. The New Orders Index registered 54.3 percent, 4.4 percentage points lower than the reading of 58.7 percent in November. The Employment Index increased 1 percentage point in December to 56.3 percent from the November reading of 55.3 percent. The Prices Index increased by 0.1 percentage point from the November reading of 60.7 percent to 60.8 percent, indicating that prices increased in December for the seventh consecutive month. According to the NMI®, 14 non-manufacturing industries reported growth. There has been a second consecutive month of pullback in the rate of growth. Overall, the majority of respondents' comments indicate that they finished the year on a positive note. They also indicate optimism for business conditions and the economic outlook going forward."

INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE

The 14 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in December — listed in order — are: Retail Trade; Utilities; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Other Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; Accommodation & Food Services; Finance & Insurance; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Transportation & Warehousing; Mining; Construction; Wholesale Trade; Public Administration; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. The three industries reporting contraction in December are: Information; Educational Services; and Management of Companies & Support Services.

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 4.1 points and now is at 57.3.

ISM Services - Business Activity Sub-Index

The New Orders Index declined 4.4 and is currently at 54.3.

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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