The numbers: IHS Markit said Wednesday its composite business activity index slipped to 54.4 in September from 54.6 in the previous month.
The flash services purchasing managers index inched down to 54.6 from 55 in August. The flash manufacturing index rose to 53.5 in September from 53.1 in the prior month. This is a 20-month high.
Any reading above the 50 neutral mark indicates improving conditions. The flash estimate is typically based on approximately 85%-90% of total survey responses each month.
What happened: New orders increased for the second straight month. Activity has been helped by acceleration in the pace of new business growth at services providers, IHS Markit said. The rate of backlog accumulation slowed. Firms were able to raise their selling prices at the fastest pace since Oct, 2018.
Big picture: Business activity has improved from the steep decline in activity in the second quarter during the depths of the pandemic. Manufacturers continue to outperform service providers.
In Europe, a new rise in coronavirus cases hit the economy hard.
Read:Eurozone economies barely grew in September, PMI data show
What IHS Markit said: “The question now turns to whether the economy’s strong performance can be sustained in the fourth quarter. Risks…seem tilted to the downside for the coming months as businesses await clarity with respect to both the pandemic and the election,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
Market reaction: U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average
moving higher but the S&P 500 index
and the Nasdaq Composite Index