The Institute for Supply Management is out with its latest report on the services economy. The non-manufacturing data for the month of March 2012 showed that economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector posted its 27th consecutive month of gains. The Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business was down 1.3 points from the February report with a reading of 56.0%. This still represent growth, but Bloomberg had estimates pegged at 57.0 and Dow Jones had a consensus of 56.9 for March.
Today’s report shows continued growth, albeit at a slower pace than the prior month. The Business Activity Index was down 3.7 points to 58.9% in March; and the New Orders Index fell by 2.4 points to 58.8%; and the Employment Index was actually up 1 full point to 56.7%.
Inflation hawks may be losing some of the argument here as the Prices Index fell by 4.5 points down to 63.9%. That is still higher in prices, but at a slower rate. It is interesting that the report noted that there remains a concern about cost pressures and the instability of fuel prices.
The NMI reported that 16 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in March and the comments from the respondents remained mostly optimistic about business conditions with a higher confidence level of businesses and consumers.
JON C. OGG