United States manufacturing continues to rise in February: ISM

Posted March 03, 2017

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 17 reported growth in February in the following order, including textile mills, machinery and transportation equipment.

"The headline indexes from the Philly Fed and Empire State surveys were up strongly in February, with broad-based improvement in details, suggesting healthy activity in the manufacturing sector". This was above consensus expectations of a marginal increase to 56.1 for the month and the strongest reading since the end of 2014. The group's New Orders Index was 65.1%, the highest since December 2013 and its Production Index was 62.9%, the highest since March 2011. Comments from the businesses surveyed were "very largely positive".

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However, the employment index slipped almost two points to 54.2, although that still indicates job growth in the sector with 10 of the 18 industries surveyed saying hiring rose in the month. A chemical products respondent said that business is improving and lead times are extending by two or more weeks.

"I don't see why we can't continue this kind of pace over the next several months", Bradley Holcomb, chair of ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said on a conference call with reporters. There does not seem to be anything standing in the way of continuing this run up.

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The prices index slowed in the month to 68 percent from 69 percent, but still indicates increasing costs. But an index reading above 50 showed that the sector was still in an expansion phase. Inventories of raw materials also got a boost in February, rising above the 50% threshold to 51.5%. Only furniture and related products saw diminished activity. The PMI is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment. Sixteen industries reported increases in new orders while none reported decreases.

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