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The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in December 2012 for the 36th consecutive month.
The business activity index stood at 60.3 percent and the new orders index was 59.3 percent. Released just before federal employment numbers, the ISM employment index was 56.3 percent.
The Non-Manufacturing ISM Report on Business survey is sent to Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee respondents at the beginning of each month and asks only for information on the current month.
On the manufacturing side, December 2012 registered 50.7 percent. New orders, production and employment were all growing while inventories were contracting.
The manufacturing index was up 1.2 percentage points from November’s 49.5, moving from the “contracting” side of the benchmark to the “expanding” side.
New orders registered 50.3 percent, the same level as November and just to the growth side of the threshold. Production continued to grow at 52.6 percent, but at a slightly slower pace than the 53.7 percent registered in November.
Employment shifted from the contracting side of the scale to growing, moving up 4.3 percentage points to 52.7 percent.
Prices also continued to rise. Both exports and imports registered growth at an index value of 51.5 percent each.
Inventories are contracting. In December, the inventories index registered 43.0 percent, down from 45.0 percent in November, indicating a faster contraction. This level is the lowest since December 2009. Customer inventories are considered to be low, reporting 47.0 percent in December.
Manufacturing prices are also rising. The index reports 55.5 percent, up from 52.5 percent in November.
New export orders rose 4.5 percentage points in December to 51.5 percent. The import index also rose to 51.5 percent from 48.0 percent in November.