The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing composite index decreased by 1.3 of a point month on month, (m/m) to a strong 59.7 in February. The indexes remain strong in 2019, up 2.3% 3MMA y/y. The advance in the index points to continued growth in the nonmanufacturing segment as the fundamentals remain strong for the sector.

The ISM nonmanufacturing survey measures the rate and direction of change in activity in nonmanufacturing industries. Surveys are sent to more than 370 purchasing managers in 17 industries. Survey responses reflect the change in the current month compared with the previous month. A value of 50 is neutral, while less than 50 is contracting and greater than 50 is expansionary.

ism-nonmfg-fig1Figure 1 breaks down the details in month on month, 3MMA, (three month moving average) year on year, 12MMA y/y and momentum comparisons. The new order sub-index moved-down 7.5 points to 65.2 in February and was up 2.0% 3MMA y/y and 1.7% 12MMA y/y.  Fourteen industries reported growth in new orders and four noted a decline.  Increased spending is being approved for capital projects based on tax benefits and the improving economy.

Table 1ism-nonmfg-table1 shows the history of the ISM nonmanufacturing index from 2003 to present.  The index has been in the expansionary zone since the great recession ended. There has been a strong upward trend since the beginning of 2016.

The employment sub-index came in 55.2, down 2.6 points m/m.  The employment sub-index was down 1.9% 3MMA, and up by 1.8% on a 12MMA basis.

The business activity sub-index increased by 5.0 points m/m to 64.7. The exports new order sub-index was up 4.5 points m/m to 55.0. While the import sub-index decreased by 3.5 points to 48.5, lowest it has been since March 2017.

The ISM nonmanufacturing survey indicates that the economy is performing very well. This is important since 88% of GDP stems from the non-goods producing segment of the economy.

At Gerdau we closely monitor the ISM non-manufacturing index since it is an excellent barometer of the present strength as well as a window on the likely short-run future of US nonmanufacturing economy. We have seen that a strengthening nonmanufacturing economy translates to improved steel consumption.