ISM non-manufacturing PMI jumps in January

By Geoffrey Smith -- A key gauge of service-sector activity in the U.S. rose strongly in January, adding to evidence earlier Friday that the economy still has plenty of momentum.

The Institute of Supply Management’s non-manufacturing purchasing managers index jumped to 55.2, after dipping below the key threshold of 50 for the first time in two and a half years in December.

"Although responses varied by industry and company, the majority of panelists indicated that business is trending in a positive direction,” ISM chair Anthony Nieves said in a statement.

Importantly, the forward-looking new orders sub-index surged to 60.4 from 45.2 in December. The employment sub-index rose to 50, indicating no net change.

“Some companies still find it difficult to fill open positions, while others are facilitating staff reductions,” Nieves said.

The ISM’s survey provides a more nuanced picture than the labor market report for January released earlier on Friday. That showed some 517,000 net jobs created in the month through mid-January, the overwhelming majority of them outside the manufacturing and government sectors. 

The survey also showed price pressure continuing to ease, albeit modestly, with a decline in the prices paid index to 67.8 from 68.1, while the inventory index at 49.2, while up on the month, was below the 50 level for the eighth straight month.

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