This isn't a good sign. In one of the early economic temperature readings for April, the Institute for Supply Management reports that service sector growth slowed considerably. Its Non-Manufacturing Index fell drastically to its August 2010 level, which matches the 12-month low. Is the recovery losing its battle with rising gas prices and economic other shocks?
Here's the chart from ISM showing the components of its service sector barometer:
First, the NMI dropped a painful 4.5%. As mentioned, 52.8 matches its August level, but that was a low point for the early recovery. You have to go back to January 2010 to find a lower value than that for the NMI. Any score above 50 indicates growth, but at 52.8 that growth is much slower than it was when it peaked at 59.7 in February.
Business activity has now fallen two months in a row as well. That index has fallen a dramatic 13.2% since February. Again, however, business activity is still growing, on balance, but barely.
If you think the performance of those two indices sounds bad, then you'll be really worried about new orders. Their index fell a painful 11.4% in April to 52.7. This indicates anemic growth in new orders. New export orders also fell significantly last month, by 5.5%.