Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ISM Report on Business - 12/5/12

ISM's Non-Manufacturing Report on Business for November 2012 was released today. NMI, the composite index for Non-Manufacturing, came in at 54.65%, an increase of 0.5% percentage points from October. PMI, the composite index for Manufacturing, was released on Monday and was at 49.5%, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points from October. This is the lowest reading for PMI since July 2009. A reading below 50 indicates that the sector is contracting. A reading below 42.6% for PMI indicates that the overall economy is declining. I have averaged the Manufacturing and Non-manufacturing components to create a composite reading.

Below is an interactive graph. You can interact with the graph by choosing what to display. The INDICATOR category contains all 10 areas surveyed as well as the PMI and NMI composites. The choices in the MA/NMA category allow you to view the Manufacturing report (MA), the Non-manufacturing report (NMA), and a composite of the two. The DATES category allows you to view specific periods of time.

Here is what some of the respondents to the surveys are saying:


  •  "Conditions still appear to be positive for continued growth in sales." (Machinery) 
  • "Business is steady, but not much more than that. We are in a lull." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products) 
  • "The principle business conditions that will affect the company over the next three or four quarters will be the U.S. federal government tax and budgetary policies; the impact of those policies is not yet clear." (Petroleum & Coal Products) 
  • "Differences between first half of year and remaining half are very dramatic, growing to a peak in the middle of the year with a gradual decline since." (Plastics & Rubber Products) 
  • "Seeing a slowdown in request for quote activity." (Computer & Electronic Products) 
  • "The fiscal cliff is the big worry right now. We will not look toward any type of expansion until this is addressed; if the program that is put in place is more taxes and big spending cuts — which will push us toward recession — forget it." (Fabricated Metal Products) 
  • "Seeing a slowdown in demand across markets." (Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components) 
  • "Economy is very sluggish. Production is down and orders have slowed considerably from Q1." (Transportation Equipment) 
  • "East Coast storms delayed some shipments." (Primary Metals) 
  • "Global economic uncertainty still seems to be sticking around which is not necessarily making things worse, but it is also not making things better from a demand standpoint." (Chemical Products) 


  •  "Cautiously optimistic is the best way to describe customer sentiment. Revenue continues to remain well below last year, but seems to have finally reached a point of stability. Price pressures are beginning to ease and customer traffic is once again picking up." (Arts, Entertainment & Recreation) 
  • "We have experienced an estimated 25 percent [increase] in new job orders, and in new hires for services." (Professional, Scientific & Technical Services) 
  • "Some companies seemed slower to make hiring decisions and/or place new positions on hold due to uncertainty in the economy and political climate." (Management of Companies & Support Services)
  •  "Worries about global slowdown persist; however, the housing market appears to have hit its lows and is beginning to climb. This is good news for governmental tax base projections." (Public Administration) 
  • "Hurricane Sandy has impacted our business activity tremendously. This emergency should not be misconstrued as a positive increase in business as usual; we merely facilitated emergency equipment and supplies to be delivered to the affected areas and the emergency responders." (Wholesale Trade)
  •  "Sales continue to lag, but there are signs of improvement." (Retail Trade)

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Furthermore, these charts have limitations.  Economic data is often revised after the fact.  The market is forward looking and anticipates future events.  The unexpected can and will happen.  The market is continually changing.  The conditions of the past are different from the present.  Past performance is not an indication of future performance.