March ISM Manufacturing Index: Strong Growth

This morning the Institute for Supply Management published its monthly Manufacturing Report for March. The latest headline Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was 64.7, an increase of 3.9 from 60.8 the previous month and in expansion territory. Today's headline number was above the forecast of 61.3 percent.

Here is the key analysis from the report:

The report was issued today by Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee:

“The manufacturing economy continued its recovery in March. However, Survey Committee Members reported that their companies and suppliers continue to struggle to meet increasing rates of demand due to coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts limiting availability of parts and materials. Extended lead times, wide-scale shortages of critical basic materials, rising commodities prices and difficulties in transporting products are affecting all segments of the manufacturing economy. Worker absenteeism, short-term shutdowns due to part shortages, and difficulties in filling open positions continue to be issues that limit manufacturing-growth potential. Optimistic panel sentiment increased, with eight positive comments for every cautious comment, compared to a 5-to-1 ratio in February. Demand expanded, with the (1) New Orders Index growing at a strong level, supported by the New Export Orders Index continuing to expand, (2) Customers’ Inventories Index at an all-time low and (3) Backlog of Orders Index growing to an all-time high. Consumption (measured by the Production and Employment indexes) contributed positively (a combined 10.1-percentage point increase) to the Manufacturing PMI® calculation. All top six industries reported moderate to strong expansion. The Employment Index expanded for the fourth straight month, but panelists continue to note significant difficulties in attracting and retaining labor at their companies’ and suppliers’ facilities. Inputs — expressed as supplier deliveries, inventories, and imports — continued to support input-driven constraints to production expansion, at higher rates compared to February. Inputs positively contributed to the PMI® calculation, by a combined 5.7 percentage points. The importation of items marginally slowed in the period, driven by port backlogs. The Prices Index expanded for the 10th consecutive month, indicating continued supplier pricing power and scarcity of supply chain goods.

“All of the six biggest manufacturing industries — Computer & Electronic Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Transportation Equipment; Chemical Products; and Petroleum & Coal Products, in that order — registered strong growth in March. See report

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