Was The Best Year For US Manufacturing Since 2004

US manufacturing activity continued to expand in July

U.S. Manufacturing Records Best Year Since 2004 AFP by Tom Ciccotta4 Jan 20180 4 Jan 2018 4 Jan 2018

The numbers:The Institute for Supply Management (https://www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org/about/MediaRoom/newsreleasedetail.cfm?ItemNumber=31000) said Wednesday its manufacturing index rose to 59.7%, the second-highest reading of the year, from 58.2% in November. The ISM said its purchasing managers index rose to 59.7 in December from 58.2 in November, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the manufacturing sector.

The Employment Index declined 2.7 points to 57.0 in December, indicating expansion for the fifteenth consecutive month. The one disappointment was the employment index, which fell almost three points to a still-strong 57 per cent. "However, the strengthening of demand for raw materials has led to supply chain delays, which have in turn been increasingly linked to higher prices as a sellers' market develops".

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Another area to watch is prices, given the prospects for earnings and inflation, and that index jumped 3.5 points to 69 per cent, which means it has been rising for 22 months as 17 of 18 industries reported increases. "Supplier deliveries continued to slow (improving) at a faster rate, and inventories continued to contract at a slower rate during the period". Ten industries reported higher inventories, while seven reported a decrease. In responding to ISM's survey, 65 percent stated that they had difficulty hiring new employees and 44 percent increased starting pay in an effort to attract new workers. Of the eighteen manufacturing industries, sixteen reported growth, while two reported contraction. Heading into 2018, it will be interesting to see if these trends continue or if production levels can pace closer to new orders.

The latest data brings the average reading in 2017 to 57.6, the highest level in 13 years.

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Of the 16 industries reporting growth in December, the machinery, chemical, and computer and electronic products sectors reported the biggest gains.

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