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ISM Services Index Rises Unexpectedly in May

The latest reading ticked up slightly to 53.7 from 53.5 in April


The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index, released Tuesday morning, increased to 53.7 in May, marking the 29th consecutive month of service sector growth.

That was up from April’s reading of 53.5, and exceeded the forecast of economists, who anticipated a decline to 53.4, Bloomberg noted.

Economic News: What to Watch This Week
Economic News: What to Watch This Week

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index segment rose a percentage point in May to 55.6, with increased activity in information, construction, wholesale trade, hotels, educational services, business management services, finance and insurance, and professional and scientific services.

The Non-Manufacturing New Orders Index segment grew two percentage points in May to 55.5, the 34th consecutive monthly increase.

However, the Non-Manufacturing Employment Index segment fell by 3.4 percentage points to 50.8.

The overall index’s rise was unexpected given a variety of other economic data that have been pointing to a slowdown in the economy. Last month’s jobs report showed that private employers added a paltry 69,000 jobs in May, while April’s payroll numbers were revised down significantly and the unemployment rate ticked back up a tenth of a percent, to 8.2%.

Yesterday, the The Commerce Department announced that orders to U.S. factories fell 0.6% in April to $465.98 billion, disappointing economists, who had forecast factory orders to remain flat from the month before. The government also revised March’s factory orders downward, restating that month’s decline from 1.5% to 2.1%.

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