Just like last week's ISM beat on ugly core data was boosted by hollow peripheral components such as inventories, so today's Non-Manufacturing ISM was an exercise in pure desperation. While the August print did beat expectations of 51, coming at 53.3, up from 52.7 previously, the biggest increase was in... Prices and Export Orders (rising at 7.6 and 7.5): i.e. margin squeeze resumes. The important stuff: Business Activity and Employment? Both down (-0.5 and -0.9). Also up? Imports. In other words, Exports offset Imports, margins cuts, and less workers. But at least backlogs are up.... Until backlogged orders get cancelled. From the report: " The NMI registered 53.3 percent in August, 0.6 percentage point higher than the 52.7 percent registered in July, and indicating continued growth at a slightly faster rate in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased 0.5 percentage point to 55.6 percent, reflecting growth for the 25th consecutive month, but at a slower rate than in July. The New Orders Index increased by 1.1 percentage points to 52.8 percent. The Employment Index decreased 0.9 percentage point to 51.6 percent, indicating growth in employment for the 12th consecutive month, but at a slower rate than in July. The Prices Index increased 7.6 percentage points to 64.2 percent, indicating that prices increased at a faster rate in August when compared to July. According to the NMI, 10 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in August. Respondents' comments remain mixed. There is a degree of uncertainty concerning business conditions for the balance of the year."
And as always, the most amusing part of the report: the respondents:
- "Overall prices paid are increasing, while sales are still slightly behind projections." (Public Administration)
- "This month we have seen a downward trend in sales activities due to weather and economic conditions." (Construction)
- "Customer traffic is trending lower, but spending per person continues to increase. Labor cost savings realized through attrition, as fewer replacements are hired. The outlook for the remainder of 2011 is cautiously optimistic, with increased investment in marketing. 'Sticky prices' are keeping operating expenses elevated even as commodity supply eases." (Arts, Entertainment & Recreation)
- "We had a good first half. Starting to see inflation in many of our input costs. Consumer demand is flat." (Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting)
- "Business is holding, but looking weaker toward fourth quarter." (Professional, Scientific & Technical Services)
- "Business climate uncertainty is increasing." (Management of Companies & Support Services)
Remember deflation? Not here.
Commodities Up in Price
Abrasives; Airfares* (9); Aluminum Based Products; Automobile Starters; Carbon Steel Plate; Computer and Peripherals; Copper Based Products; Cotton*; D-Limonene; #1 Diesel Fuel*; #2 Diesel Fuel* (14); Food and Beverage; Freight Charges; Fuel (20); Gasoline* (11); Gloves; Healthcare Related; Labor; Latex Gloves; Petroleum Products (8); Plastic Resins; Rental Equipment; Repair Parts; Resin Products; Soy Oil; 3/4-Ton Pickup Trucks (4X4); and Transmissions/Heavy Duty Vehicles.
Commodities Down in Price
Airfares*; Cotton*; #1 Diesel Fuel*; #2 Diesel Fuel*; and Gasoline* (3).
And so on. We expect the market to realize this data was about as bad as last week's Mfg ISM, not to mention does nothing for the global insolvency, within a few hours.