(Tempe, Arizona) — Business activity in the non-manufacturing sector increased in April 2004, say the nation's purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.
The report was issued today by Ralph G. Kauffman, Ph.D., C.P.M., chair of the Institute for Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee and coordinator of the purchasing and supply management program, University of Houston-Downtown. "Non-manufacturing Business Activity increased for the 13th consecutive month in April," Kauffman said. He added, "Also in April, New Orders, Order Backlogs, Employment, Imports, Prices, Exports, and Inventories increased."
Purchasing and supply executives report that business activity continued to increase in April in the non-manufacturing sector, and at a faster rate of increase than in March, with some indexes reaching record high values. The Business Activity Index for April is 68.4 percent. April's index indicates continued growth across almost all non-manufacturing industries. In April, 16 industry groups reported growth, while one grew at the same rate as in March and none indicated contraction. Increased business activity in April was reported by 46 percent of members, compared to 42 percent in March. Reduced activity was reported by 8 percent of members, compared to 10 percent in March. In April, the remaining 46 percent of members indicated no change in business activity, compared to 48 percent that reported no change in March.
The Backlog of Orders Index increased by 1 percentage point to 53.5 percent, indicating growth in order backlogs for the 12th consecutive month and at a faster rate of increase than in March. The April New Orders Index increased from 62.8 percent in March to 65.6 percent in April. This indicates a faster rate of increase of new orders in April compared to March. Members reported that the prices they pay increased in April for the 25th consecutive month, with a faster rate of increase than in March. April's Prices Index is 68.6 percent, a rise of 2.9 percentage points from the 65.7 percent reported in March. This month, 16 industry groups reported paying higher prices compared to March, and one reported paying the same level of prices as in March. Many of members' comments concerning business in April indicate optimism. Specific comments include: "General business conditions improving"; "Activity this quarter continues to exceed budgeted projection"; "Improving picture — hiring freeze has been lifted"; "General conditions have been very strong, reflecting increased consumer activity"; and "Business seems to have turned on a dime. Our company has never seen anything like it. We are concerned the increase in demand might be short-lived."
In addition, Inventories increased for the second consecutive month. With regard to Inventory Sentiment for April, members reported a lower level of concern than in March that inventories are too high. New Export Orders increased for the ninth consecutive month, Imports increased for the 12th consecutive month, and Employment increased for the seventh consecutive month. Supplier Deliveries indicated slower performance for the 32nd consecutive month.
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