Non-Manufacturing Gain Exceeds Expectations

By John S. McClenahen After a couple of months of slower rates of growth, the non-manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy accelerated in July and beat most economists' expectations in the process. The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) business activity index for non-manufacturing was 64.8% last month, up nearly five percentage points from June's 59.9% "Non-manufacturing business activity increased for the 16th consecutive month in July," notes Ralph G. Kauffman, chair of the non-manufacturing business survey committee for Tempe, Ariz.-based ISM and the coordinator of the purchasing and supply management program at the University of Houston-Downtown. "Also in July, new orders, order backlogs, imports, prices, exports and inventories increased, while employment was unchanged." Of the 17 sectors of non-manufacturing included in ISM's business activity index, 12 reported increased business activity in July, four were unchanged from June, and only one - entertainment -- reported decreased activity.

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