ISM services very good but can it last?

The April ISM services index was slightly below expectations at 55.4 vs the estimate of 56. It’s flat with March at highest since May ’06. Overall Business Activity rose a touch to 60.3 from 60. New Orders though fell about 4 pts to 58.2 while the Employment component remained below 50 at 49.5, down from 49.8 in March. It was last above 50 in Dec ’07 and with the services sector making up about 85% of total employment it confirms the ADP report today and the muted addition of jobs. Backlogs fell 6 pts to 49.5. Export Orders were solid at 57 but down .5 pts from March. Prices Paid rose almost 2 pts to the highest since Sept ’08. ISM said “respondents’ comments are mostly positive about current business conditions; however, they vary by industry and company” with 14 of 18 industries surveyed reported growth. Net-net, while below estimates, the # is above the long term average and confirms the recovery but is backward looking now in the midst of Europe and China concerns.

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