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posted on 01 July 2016

June 2016 ISM Manufacturing Survey Continues to Improve. Above Expectations.

Written by Steven Hansen

The ISM Manufacturing survey remained in expansion for the fourth month after 5 months in contraction - and improved. The key internals likewise improved. The PMI manufacturing Index, also released today, is also in positive territory and marginally improved.

The ISM Manufacturing survey index (PMI) marginally declined from 50.8 to 53.2 (50 separates manufacturing contraction and expansion). This was at expectations which were 50.0 to 53.0 (consensus 51.5).

Earlier today, the PMI Manufacturing Index was released - from Bloomberg:

Released On 7/1/2016 9:45:00 AM For Jun, 2016
Prior Actual
Level 50.7 51.3

The final manufacturing PMI for June is little changed from the flash, down 1 tenth to a 51.3 level that points to no more than modest growth for the sector. But the news is mostly good in June, at least compared to May when the index was even weaker at 50.7. June saw a pickup in new orders and a 2-year high in export growth. Production was also up as was employment. But inventories were down as the sample, in a defensive move, keeps a lid on restocking. Coming up next is the closely watched ISM manufacturing where a modest 51.5 headline is expected.

The regional Fed manufacturing surveys are mixed, and now the ISM indicates manufacturing shows expansion.

Relatively deep penetration of this index below 50 has normally resulted in a recession.

The noisy Backlog of Orders improved and returned to expansion. Backlog growth should be an indicator of improving conditions; a number below 50 indicates contraction. Backlog accuracy does not have a high correlation against actual data.

Excepts from the ISM release:

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in June for the fourth consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 85th consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The June PMI® registered 53.2 percent, an increase of 1.9 percentage points from the May reading of 51.3 percent. The New Orders Index registered 57 percent, an increase of 1.3 percentage points from the May reading of 55.7 percent. The Production Index registered 54.7 percent, 2.1 percentage points higher than the May reading of 52.6 percent. The Employment Index registered 50.4 percent, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from the May reading of 49.2 percent. Inventories of raw materials registered 48.5 percent, an increase of 3.5 percentage points from the May reading of 45 percent. The Prices Index registered 60.5 percent, a decrease of 3 percentage points from the May reading of 63.5 percent, indicating higher raw materials prices for the fourth consecutive month. Manufacturing registered growth in June for the fourth consecutive month, as 12 of our 18 industries reported an increase in new orders in June (down from 14 in May), and 12 of our 18 industries reported an increase in production in June (same as in May).

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 13 are reporting growth in June in the following order: Printing & Related Support Activities; Textile Mills; Petroleum & Coal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Paper Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Computer & Electronic Products; Chemical Products; Primary Metals; Machinery; and Nonmetallic Mineral Products. The three industries reporting contraction in June are: Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Transportation Equipment; and Plastics & Rubber Products.

It is interesting to note that ISM Manufacturing represents less than 10% of USA employment, and approximately 20% of the business economy. Historically, it could be argued that the production portion of ISM Manufacturing leads the Fed's Industrial Production index - however the correlation is not strong when looking at trends.

New orders have direct economic consequences. Expanding new orders is a relatively reliable sign a recession is NOT imminent. However, New Orders contraction have given false recession warnings twice since 2000. This month new orders improved significantly and remains in expansion.

However, holding this and other survey's Econintersect follows accountable for their predictions, the following graph compares the hard data from Industrial Products manufacturing subindex (blue bar) and US Census manufacturing shipments (red bar) to the ISM Manufacturing Survey (purple bar).

Comparing Surveys to Hard Data

z survey1.png

Caveats on the use of ISM Manufacturing Index:

This is a survey, a quantification of opinion - not facts and data. However, as pointed out above, certain elements of this survey have good to excellent correlation to the economy. Surveys lead hard data by weeks to months, and can provide early insight into changing conditions.

Many use ISM manufacturing for guidance in estimating manufacturing employment growth. Econintersect has run correlation coefficients for the ISM manufacturing employment and the BLS manufacturing employment data series above going back to 1988, using quarterly data. The coincident correlations are actually negative, but poor (r = -0.2 to -0.4 for various time periods examined). See here for definitions.

Before 2000 the ISM employment data had a weak positive correlation to the BLS data 4 to 7 quarters later (r values above 0.6). Since 2000 the correlations for ISM manufacturing employment as a leading indicator for the BLS manufacturing employment have been between 0 and 0.3 for r (correlation coefficient). These values define correlations as none to poor.

In other words, ISM employment index is not useful in understanding manufacturing jobs growth.

The ISM employment index appears useful in predicting turning points which can lead the BLS data up to one year.

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