Today, the Institute for Supply Management released their latest Non-Manufacturing Report on Business indicating that service related business activity improved slightly throughout November with the business activity component increasing on the month while the overall non-manufacturing index declined falling to 52.0 from 52.9 in October.
At 56.2 the business activity index increased 4.46% since October but remained 5.39% below the level seen a year earlier.
Like releases of prior months, non-manufacturing sector respondents are seeing some signs of improvement but the overall outlook is still fairly mixed:
"Business activity continues to swing back and forth. Customer traffic remains lower than expected, but discretionary spending is fluctuating, making it difficult to find the pulse of the consumer." (Arts, Entertainment & Recreation)
"Lending is getting a little better. Competition for good deals is fierce because there remains a very limited number of high-quality borrowers." (Finance & Insurance)
"Raw materials prices appear to be stabilizing, and in some cases are dropping. Diesel fuels remain elevated and have not dropped." (Mining)
"We currently see no signs of a turnaround. Customers are nervous about the future of their jobs and incomes. Due to this fact, our sales are down and our need to hire more employees is, too." (Accommodation & Food Services)
"Business is slowly improving. Outlook for the next few months is good." (Retail Trade)
"In the face of an extremely tight business climate, prices continue to be sticky. We are not seeing significant price moderation." (Management of Companies & Support Services)