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posted on 03 January 2018

December 2017 Manufacturing Survey Growth Remains In Expansion

Written by Steven Hansen

The ISM Manufacturing survey improved and remained in expansion. The key internals are in expansion. The Markit PMI manufacturing Index is in positive territory and improved.

Analyst Opinion of the ISM Manufacturing Survey

Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed's Industrial Production index growth rate to improve. 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 55.0 to 55.5 55.0 55.1
ISM Manufacturing 57.1 to 59.5 58.0 59.7

From the Markit PMI Manufacturing Index:

Operating conditions improve at quickest rate for nine months

  • Output expands at quickest pace in 11 months supported by steep increase in total new work
  • Rate of job creation fastest since September 2014
  • December data indicated a marked improvement in US manufacturing operating conditions. The latest upturn was supported by faster increases in output and new orders, amid reports of greater client demand. In line with stronger production growth, employment rose further and at the fastest pace since September 2014. Backlogs meanwhile increased at the quickest rate since October 2015 to indicate ongoing capacity pressures. Supply chain delays and increased global demand for inputs pushed costs up further, with the rate of cost inflation remaining sharp overall. Charge inflation, however, softened. Business confidence remained robust, driven by more favourable demand conditions.
  • The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index™ (PMI™) registered 55.1 in December, up from 53.9 in November. The latest index reading was the highest since March 2015 and signalled a solid improvement in the health of the sector. December data also rounded off the strongest quarterly performance since the start of 2015.

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 improved 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 sectorexpanded in December, and the overall economy grew for the 103rd 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 December PMI® registered 59.7 percent, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the November reading of 58.2 percent. The New Orders Index registered 69.4 percent, an increase of 5.4 percentage points from the November reading of 64 percent. The Production Index registered 65.8 percent, a 1.9 percentage point increase compared to the November reading of 63.9 percent. The Employment Index registered 57 percent, a decrease of 2.7 percentage points from the November reading of 59.7 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 57.9 percent, a 1.4 percentage point increase from the November reading of 56.5 percent. The Inventories Index registered 48.5 percent, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the November reading of 47 percent. The Prices Index registered 69 percent in December, a 3.5 percentage point increase from the November reading of 65.5 percent, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 22nd consecutive month. Comments from the panel reflect expanding business conditions, with new orders and production leading gains; employment expanding at a slower rate; order backlogs expanding at a faster rate; and export orders and imports continuing to grow in December. Supplier deliveries continued to slow (improving) at a faster rate, and inventories continued to contract at a slower rate during the period. Price increases continued at a faster rate. The Customers' Inventories Index declined and remains at low levels."

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 16 reported growth in December in the following order: Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Paper Products; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Furniture & Related Products; Transportation Equipment; Chemical Products; Fabricated Metal Products; and Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components. Two industries reported contraction during the period: Wood Products; and Textile Mills.

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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