July 2013 ISM Services Index Well Above Expectations

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The July 2013 ISM non-manufacturing (aka services) index continues its growth cycle, improving from 52.2 to 56.0 (above 50 signals expansion) – and the internals were even stronger.

This was well above the range of market forecasts of 53.1 to 53.2.

There are two sub-indexes in the NMI which have good correlations to the economy – the Business Activity Index and the New Orders Index – and both have good track records in spotting an incipient recession. Both are inside expansion territory – and both improved much more than the non-manufacturing index.

This index and its associated sub-indices are fairly volatile – and one needs to step back from the data and view this index over longer periods than a single month.

The Business Activity sub-index rose 8.7 points and now is at 60.4.

ISM Services – Business Activity Sub-Index

The New Orders Index rose 6.9 and is currently at 57.7.

ISM Services – New Orders Sub-Index

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

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.

From the ISM report:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in July for the 43rd consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

“The NMI™ registered 56 percent in July, 3.8 percentage points higher than the 52.2 percent registered in June. This indicates continued growth at a faster rate in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased substantially to 60.4 percent, which is 8.7 percentage points higher than the 51.7 percent reported in June, reflecting growth for the 48th consecutive month. The New Orders Index increased significantly by 6.9 percentage points to 57.7 percent, and the Employment Index decreased 1.5 percentage points to 53.2 percent, indicating growth in employment for the 12th consecutive month. The Prices Index increased 7.6 percentage points to 60.1 percent, indicating prices increased at a significantly faster rate in July when compared to June. According to the NMI™, 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in July. Respondents’ comments are mostly positive about business conditions and the overall economy.”

INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE – The 16 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in July — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Construction; Information; Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade; Finance & Insurance; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Utilities; Educational Services; Other Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Accommodation & Food Services; Public Administration; and Transportation & Warehousing. The two industries reporting contraction in July are: Mining; and Health Care & Social Assistance.

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.

ISM Services Employment Sub-Index vs BLS Non-Farm Services Employment

Related Articles

All Articles on Institute of Supply Management Surveys

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