Credit Managers Index Shows Slowing Growth in April

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The National Association of Credit Management (NACM) has released its Credit Managers Index (CMI) for the month of May. While the index did decline, it was shown to have remained in positive territory. Many investors and economists skip this monthly report, but it does make up one of the components for each month’s leading economic indicators.

May’s CMI was shown to have started mirroring some of the other economic data that have emerged over the past few months. That would translate into slowing growth, but still positive growth.

The 53.8 CMI reading in May compares with April’s index reading of 54.6, a calendar year high. Economists measure this reading to show growth above 50.0, while readings under 50.0 would represent a contraction in overall credit to companies.

All in all, the NACM sees this reading as one that continues to be solid heading into mid-year, while other key economic indicators are finally starting to mirror the predictive monthly index. The group does admit that there are concerns in some quarters that the 2016 growth trend may have peaked this spring, as well as that several CMI categories eased from impressive April performances. A ray of sunshine in the CMI was the strong performance of the amount of credit extended category.

NACM Economist Chris Kuehl said:

Those seeking credit are seeking quite a bit of it. That suggests the larger companies are the ones looking for more credit… It was only a few months ago that readings were consistently in the 40s.

Improvements in the combined unfavorable categories factors have been harder to obtain. However, the numbers have at least steadied for the most part, and May actually marked only the third month in more than a year when the unfavorables have reached at least 51.

While investors and many economists often ignore the CMI data, NACM notes that the data often are more predictive than other economic indicators, like the durable goods orders, the Purchasing Managers’ Index, retail sales and employment. They say that this is because the credit management function is fundamentally forward looking, and there have been some signs of life in these other data points.