|Composite Index - Level||57.2||55.5 to 58.2||55.7||57.8|
The ISM non-manufacturing index for May, at 55.7, came in solid but at the low end of Econoday expectations to indicate the slowest rate of monthly growth since April last year. Key readings all slowed slightly but are still very constructive with new orders at 57.9 and business activity at 59.5. Employment also slowed, down 1.4 points to 55.3 which is still a respectable rate.
Other details include a jump in exports, up 6.5 points to 55.0 in a reading that underscores this morning's big service-sector surplus in the April trade report. Supplier delivery times, which had been slowing all year, were unchanged in May suggesting, also like this morning's trade report, that supply-chain distortions tied to the first-quarter port strike have unwound. Input prices, likely tied to higher fuel costs, show some pressure, up 5.8 points to a 55.9 reading that's the highest since August last year.
A look at individual industries shows special strength for arts/entertainment/recreation and management & support services, the latter one of the strongest export industries for the nation. And in the latest hint of strength in the housing sector, both real estate and construction show strength. The only one of 18 industries to contract in the month was, once again, mining which is being hurt by low commodity prices.
The dip in employment won't be boosting expectations for Friday's employment report and the hawks at the Fed are certain to take note of the rise in prices. But in sum, this report is mostly positive and in line with the PMI services index released earlier this morning, both pointing to modest deceleration in what is otherwise the economy's central strength the service sector.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
The ISM Non-Manufacturing index, month after month, has been signaling among the most solid rates of growth of any anecdotal indicator. May expectations for a 57.2 reading would combine with April's 57.8 to signal robust second-quarter strength through the bulk of the economy.
The non-manufacturing ISM surveys more than 375 firms from numerous sectors across the United States. This index covers services, construction, mining, agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting. The non-manufacturing composite index has four equally weighted components: business activity (closely related to a production index), new orders, employment, and supplier deliveries (also known as vendor performance). The first three components are seasonally adjusted but the supplier deliveries index does not have statistically significant seasonality and is not adjusted. For the composite index, a reading above 50 percent indicates that the non-manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally declining. The supplier deliveries component index requires extra explanation. A reading above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries and below 50 percent indicates faster deliveries. However, slower deliveries are a plus for the economyindicating demand is up and vendors are not able to fill orders as quickly.
Investors need to keep their fingers on the pulse of the economy because it dictates how various types of investments will perform. By tracking economic data like the ISM non-manufacturing survey's composite index, investors will know what the economic backdrop is for the various markets. The non-manufacturing composite index has four equally weighted components: business activity, new orders, employment, and supplier deliveries. The ISM did not begin publishing the composite index until the release for January 2008. Prior to 2008, markets focused on the business activity index. The stock market likes to see healthy economic growth because that translates to higher corporate profits. The bond market prefers less rapid growth and is extremely sensitive to whether the economy is growing too quickly -- and causing potential inflationary pressures. While the ISM manufacturing index has a long history that dates to the 1940s, this relatively new report goes back to 1997.