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posted on 01 August 2017

July 2017 Manufacturing Survey Growth Again Mixed

Written by Steven Hansen

The ISM Manufacturing survey declined but remained in expansion. The key internals correlated and remained in expansion. The Markit PMI manufacturing Index, also released today, is in positive territory and modestly improved.

Analyst Opinion of the ISM Manufacturing Survey

ISM manufacturing index movements have correlated with Industrial Production Manufacturing index only half the time in the last 12 months. Based on this survey and the weak district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed's Industrial Production index to be unchanged in June. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession.

From Bloomberg / Econoday:

Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Markit Manufacturing 51.9 to 53.2 53.2 53.3
ISM Manufacturing 55.0 to 57.5 56.4 56.3

From the Markit PMI Manufacturing Index:

Manufacturing growth weakens again in June

  • PMI reaches four-month high of 53.3
  • Growth in output and new orders rebounds
  • Inflationary pressures remain muted
  • July survey data signalled a solid improvement in operating conditions in the US manufacturing sector. The upturn in business conditions was largely driven by marked and accelerated expansions in both output and new orders. Meanwhile, firms added to their payrolls and raised purchasing activity at the quickest rates since February. Business confidence reached a six-month high, as firms became more optimistic regarding future output. Inflationary pressures remained relatively muted, despite a pick up in the rate of input cost inflation.
  • The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index™ (PMI™) registered 53.3 in July, up from 52.0 in June to signal a further improvement in the health of the sector. Notably, the latest improvement in operating conditions was solid and the strongest in four months.

z markit_pmi.PNG

From the Institute of Supply Management report:

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

The noisy Backlog of Orders declined and remains in 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 July, and the overall economy grew for the 98th consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

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 July PMI® registered 56.3 percent, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points from the June reading of 57.8 percent. The New Orders Index registered 60.4 percent, a decrease of 3.1 percentage points from the June reading of 63.5 percent. The Production Index registered 60.6 percent, a 1.8 percentage point decrease compared to the June reading of 62.4 percent. The Employment Index registered 55.2 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the June reading of 57.2 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 55.4 percent, a 1.6 percentage point decrease from the June reading of 57 percent. The Inventories Index registered 50 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from the June reading of 49 percent. The Prices Index registered 62 percent in July, an increase of 7 percentage points from the June reading of 55 percent, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 17th consecutive month, with a faster rate of increase in July compared with June. Comments from the panel generally reflect expanding business conditions, with new orders, production, employment, backlog and exports all growing in July compared to June, as well as supplier deliveries slowing (improving) and inventories unchanged during the period."

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 15 reported growth in July in the following order: Plastics & Rubber Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Wood Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Chemical Products; Paper Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Computer & Electronic Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Furniture & Related Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Primary Metals; and Transportation Equipment. Three industries reported contraction in July compared to June: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Textile Mills; and Petroleum & Coal Product.

z%20ism_mfg.png

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.

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).

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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