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Economy in Brief

U.S. ISM Nonmanufacturing Index Edges Higher
by Tom Moeller  December 6, 2018

The Composite Index of Nonmanufacturing Sector Activity from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) inched up to 60.7 during November from 60.3 in October. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a decline to 59.2. The ISM measures are diffusion indexes where readings above 50 indicate expansion.

Haver Analytics constructs a Composite Index using the nonmanufacturing ISM index and the ISM manufacturing measure, which was released on Monday. This composite was fairly steady at 60.5 last month, but still near the highest level of the economic expansion. During the past 15 years, there has been a 71% correlation between this index and the quarter-on-quarter change in real GDP.

Stability in the overall index reflected a rise in the business activity series to 65.2, equaling the expansion high. The new orders index also increased to 62.5, up from the recent low of 57.0 in July. Moving lower was the supplier delivery series, which dipped to 56.5 indicating a slight quickening of delivery speeds.

The employment index fell to 58.4 last month, still below a record 62.4 in September. A lessened 22% of respondents reported a rise in payrolls while a lower nine percent reported a decline.

Price inflation was indicated to have recovered as the prices index rebounded to 64.3 and reversed its October fall. A fairly steady 28% of respondents reported a rise in prices while a lessened five percent reported a decline.

Among the other detail indexes, which are not seasonally adjusted, the export order series declined sharply to the lowest level in six months. The import index increased m/m and has been trending higher since the middle of 2017, while the order backlog index also moved higher.

The ISM figures are available in Haver's USECON database, with additional detail in the SURVEYS database. The expectations figure from Action Economics is in the AS1REPNA database.

ISM Nonmanufacturing Survey (SA) Nov Oct Sep Nov'17 2017 2016 2015
Composite Diffusion Index 60.7 60.3 61.6 57.3 56.9 54.9 57.1
   Business Activity 65.2 62.5 65.2 61.1 60.1 58.0 60.8
   New Orders 62.5 61.5 61.6 58.8 59.3 57.5 59.2
   Employment 58.4 59.7 62.4 55.4 55.2 52.6 56.0
   Supplier Deliveries (NSA) 56.5 57.5 57.0 54.0 53.2 51.5 52.5
Prices Index 64.3 61.7 64.2 60.1 57.7 52.6 50.6
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