The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the April Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI). The headline Composite Index is at percent 62.7, down 1.0 from 63.7 last month (an all-time high). Today's number came in below the forecast of 64.3 percent.

Here is the report summary:

(Tempe, Arizona) — Economic activity in the services sector grew in April for the 11th month in a row, say the nation's purchasing and supply executives in the latest Services 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®) Services Business Survey Committee: “The Services PMI® registered 62.7 percent, which is 1 percentage point lower than last month’s all-time high of 63.7 percent. The April reading indicates the 11th straight month of growth for the services sector, which has expanded for all but two of the last 135 months.

“The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 66.1 percent, up 5.1 percentage points from March’s reading of 61 percent. (Supplier Deliveries is the only ISM® Report On Business® index that is inversed; a reading of above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries, which is typical as the economy improves and customer demand increases.) The Prices Index figure of 76.8 percent is 2.8 percentage points higher than the March reading of 74 percent, indicating that prices increased in April, and at a faster rate. This is the index’s highest reading since it reached 77.4 percent in July 2008.

“According to the Services PMI®, 17 services industries reported growth. The composite index indicated growth for the 11th consecutive month after a two-month contraction in April and May 2020. There was slowing growth in the services sector in April; however, the rate of expansion is still strong. Respondents’ comments indicate that pent-up demand is continuing. Production-capacity constraints, material shortages, weather and challenges in logistics and human resources continue to affect deliveries, which has resulted in a reduction of inventories,” says Nieves. [Source]

Unlike its much older kin, the ISM Manufacturing Series, 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 the Non-Manufacturing Composite. We have only a single recession to gauge is behavior as a business cycle indicator.

The more interesting and useful subcomponent is the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index. The latest data point at 62.7 percent is down 6.7 from a seasonally adjusted 69.4 the previous month (also an all-time high).

ISM Services

For a diffusion index, this can be an extremely volatile indicator, hence the addition of a six-month moving average to help us visualize the short-term trends.

Theoretically, this indicator should become more useful as the time frame 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 our intention to keep this series on the radar.

Here is a table showing the trend in the underlying components.

Here is a link to our coverage of the latest ISM Manufacturing report.

We will publish our next ISM Non-Manufacturing report on June 3.

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