November Saw Slower Growth Than Expected
Today the Institute for Supply Management published its latest Non-Manufacturing Report. The headline NMI Composite Index is at 53.9 percent, signaling slower growth than last month's 55.4 percent. Today's number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 55.0, which was the same consensus posted by Briefing.com.
Here is the report summary:
The NMIŽ registered 53.9 percent in November, 1.5 percentage points lower than October's reading of 55.4 percent. This indicates continued growth at a slower rate in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 55.5 percent, which is 4.2 percentage points lower than the 59.7 percent reported in October, reflecting growth for the 52nd consecutive month, but at a slower rate. The New Orders Index decreased slightly by 0.4 percentage point to 56.4 percent, and the Employment Index decreased 3.7 percentage points to 52.5 percent, indicating growth in employment for the 16th consecutive month, but at a slower rate. The Prices Index decreased 3.9 percentage points to 52.2 percent, indicating prices increased at a slower rate in November when compared to October. According to the NMIŽ, 11 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in November. Respondents' comments for the most part indicate the non-manufacturing sector is maintaining a steady course of incremental growth and a positive outlook for the upcoming months.
Like its much older kin, the ISM Manufacturing Series, I have been reluctant to focus on this collection of diffusion indexes. For one thing, 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.
In my view, the more interesting and useful subcomponent is the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index.
For a diffusion index, this can be an extremely volatile indicator. Thus I've added a six-month moving average to assist us in visualizing the trend, which has been relatively range bound for the past two years.
Theoretically, I believe, this indicator will become more useful as the timeframe 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 my intention to keep this series on the radar.
Here is a link to my coverage of ISM Manufacturing report released earlier this week.
Note: I use the FRED USRECP series (Peak through the Period preceding the Trough) to highlight the recessions in the charts above. For example, the NBER dates the last cycle peak as December 2007, the trough as June 2009 and the duration as 18 months. The USRECP series thus flags December 2007 as the start of the recession and May 2009 as the last month of the recession, giving us the 18-month duration. The dot for the last recession in the charts above are thus for November 2007. The "Peak through the Period preceding the Trough" series is the one FRED uses in its monthly charts, as illustrated here.