US service industries joined their manufacturing counterparts in showing improvement in April. From Bloomberg:
The Institute for Supply Management’s index of non- manufacturing businesses, which make up almost 90 percent of the economy, rose to 43.7 from 40.8 the prior month, according to the Tempe, Arizona-based group. Readings below 50 signal contraction...
Real estate, retail and finance companies were three of the seven service industries that expanded last month, according to the ISM report. Eleven industries continued to contract, led by management, agriculture and construction firms...
The ISM non-manufacturing industries index of employment rose to 37 from 32.3 the prior month, and its gauge of new orders climbed to 47, the highest level since September, from 38.8 in March.
The improving data flow recently has boosted confidence among CEOs.
An index of confidence among U.S. chief executive officers climbed in April to 50, the highest level since early 2006, from 25.9 in January, as more company leaders believed the recession will ease, a Business Council survey showed today.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke largely shares that optimism but is wary of a relapse in the financial system.
“A relapse in financial conditions would be a significant drag on economic activity and could cause the incipient recovery to stall,” Bernanke said today in testimony to the congressional Joint Economic Committee. He highlighted that the economic contraction may be slowing and that the housing market has “shown some signs of bottoming” after a three-year slump.