ISM Manufacturing Index: Down In February

Today the Institute for Supply Management published its monthly Manufacturing Report for February. The latest headline Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was 54.2 percent, a decrease of 2.4 percent from 56.6 the previous month. Today's headline number was above the forecast of 55.5 percent.

Here is the key analysis from the report:

“The February PMI® registered 54.2 percent, an decrease of 2.4 percentage points from the January reading of 56.6 percent. The New Orders Index registered 55.5 percent, a decrease of 2.7 percentage points from the January reading of 58.2 percent. The Production Index registered 54.8 percent, 5.7-percentage point decrease compared to the January reading of 60.5 percent. The Employment Index registered 52.3 percent, a decrease of 3.2 percentage points from the January reading of 55.5 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 54.9 percent, a 1.3 percentage point decrease from the January reading of 56.2 percent. The Inventories Index registered 53.4 percent, an increase of 0.6 percentage point from the January reading of 52.8 percent. The Prices Index registered 49.4 percent, a 0.2-percentage point decrease from the January reading of 49.6 percent, indicating lower raw materials prices for the second straight month after nearly three years of increases.

Here is the table of PMI components.


The chart below shows the Manufacturing Composite series, which stretches back to 1948. The eleven recessions during this time frame are indicated along with the index value the month before the recession starts.

ISM Manufacturing


For a diffusion index, the latest reading of 54.2 is its thirtieth consecutive month of expansion. What sort of correlation does that have with the months before the start of recessions? Check out the red dots in the chart above.

Here is a closer look at the series beginning at the turn of the century.

Since 2000


Note: This commentary used the FRED USRECP series (Peak through the Period preceding the Trough) to highlight the recessions in the charts above. For example, the NBER dates the last cycle peak as December 2007, the trough as June 2009 and the duration as 18 months. The USRECP series thus flags December 2007 as the start of the recession and May 2009 as the last month of the recession, giving us the 18-month duration. The dot for the last recession in the charts above is thus for November 2007. The "Peak through the Period preceding the Trough" series is the one FRED uses in its monthly charts, as illustrated here.

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