ISM services report indicates rising activity in February


ISM services report indicates rising activity in February
The ISM's services index increased in February to a reading of 57.3 percent.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released a report on its non-manufacturing index (NMI) on March 5, which indicated increasing activity in the U.S. services sector in February.

The supply management organization's report indicated that the NMI rose to 57.3 percent in February from January's figure of 56.8 percent. The metric exceeded the median forecast of 56 supplied by economists who participated in a Bloomberg News survey. The 66 market experts who participated in the poll provided predictions ranging from 54 to 59.

"February seems to be off to a strong start for the economy," John Ryding, an economist at RDQ Economics, wrote in a note to clients, according to The Associated Press. "The pickup in order growth was particularly encouraging."

Rising activity in services is particularly relevant since 90 percent of U.S. economic output comes from the production of services, according to Bloomberg.

"The momentum that we’ve been generating in the economy is starting to broaden," Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica Inc. in Dallas, told the news source. "As we get stronger job growth, we’ll see more lift to the economy in the second half of the year."

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index jumped to 62.6, from the previous month's reading of 59.5. February was the thirty-first consecutive month where this figure rose. The Prices Index surged to 68.4, which was 4.9 points higher than the previous reading of 63.5.

Anthony Nieves, chair of the Institute for Supply Management's Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, stated in the report that "the majority of comments from the respondents reflect a growing level of optimism about business conditions and the overall economy. There is a concern about inflation, rising fuel prices and petroleum-based product costs."

The improving services activity can be seen at financial services giant JP Morgan Chase, which pledged to step up staffing and services in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities after receiving $100 million in tax credits, according to a recently released statement.

Of the $3.6 billion in credits that were granted to more than 70 organizations in 2012, the $100 million in credits was the largest amount granted to a single institution. JPMorganChase has received more than $410 in awards since the New Markets program began.

"This award is recognition of our company's commitment to community development," Matt Reilein, senior vice president, Chase, said in the statement. "It will allow us to grow that commitment and support the communities we serve. At Chase, we have an established track record of using New Markets financing to support projects that create quality jobs and services in low-income communities. We will use this award to amplify our initiative in support of access to healthcare services and to healthy foods in low-income communities."

After receiving $100 million during the latest allocation of New Markets Tax Credits from the U.S. Treasury Department, the financial services giant stated that it would increase its investment into these low-income areas. Chase has collaborated with the U.S. government since the New Markets program was created, putting more than $900 million into projects affecting these areas in 2011.

Detroit's Community Health and Social Services Center utilized funds stemming from Chase New Markets Tax Credit to upgrade its existing facility, which resulted in the center being able increase its healthcare capacity to double its previous size.

The statement indicated that the New Markets program is run by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and was created to help to stimulate these markets as well as contribute to staffing in the areas. 

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