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posted on 01 February 2018

January 2018 Manufacturing Survey Growth Remains In Expansion

Written by Steven Hansen

The ISM Manufacturing survey insignificantly declined but remained in expansion. The key internals are in expansion. The Markit PMI manufacturing Index is in positive territory and insignificantly 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 remain about the same as last month. 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 54.2 to 55.5 55.5 55.5
ISM Manufacturing 57.7 to 60.0 58.7 59.1

From the Markit PMI Manufacturing Index:

Operating conditions improve at quickest rate for nine months

  • Output and new orders expand at quickest rates for a year
  • Purchasing activity rises at steepest pace since September 2014
  • Input price inflation eases but remains sharp
  • Operating conditions across the US manufacturing sector continued to improve in January, with the latest survey data indicating the strongest upturn since March 2015. Moreover, production levels and new orders grew at the quickest rates in twelve months. Rising global demand also drove a faster expansion in new export orders. Higher production requirements resulted in a sharp and accelerated increase in buying activity. At the same time, the rate of input cost inflation eased slightly but remained marked overall. Consequently, firms raised their selling prices at the secondsteepest pace since September 2014.
  • The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index™ (PMI™) registered 55.5 in January, up from 55.1 in December. The latest index reading indicated a strong improvement in business conditions across the manufacturing sector. Moreover, the index signalled the strongest upturn in the health of the sector for over two-and-a-half years.

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 sector expanded in January, and the overall economy grew for the 105th 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 January PMI® registered 59.1 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 59.3 percent. The New Orders Index registered 65.4 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 67.4 percent. The Production Index registered 64.5 percent, a 0.7 percentage point decrease compared to the seasonally adjusted December reading of 65.2 percent. The Employment Index registered 54.2 percent, a decrease of 3.9 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 58.1 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 59.1 percent, a 1.9 percentage point increase from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 57.2 percent. The Inventories Index registered 52.3 percent, an increase of 3.8 percentage points from the December reading of 48.5 percent. The Prices Index registered 72.7 percent in January, a 4.4 percentage point increase from the December reading of 68.3 percent, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 23rd consecutive month. Comments from the panel reflect expanding business conditions, with new orders and production maintaining high levels of expansion; employment expanding at a slower rate; order backlogs expanding at a faster rate; and export orders and imports continuing to grow faster in January. Supplier deliveries continued to slow (improving) at a faster rate. Price increases occurred across all industry sectors. The Customers' Inventories Index indicates levels are still too low. Capital expenditure lead times increased 8 percent during the month of January."

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 14 reported growth in January in the following order: Textile Mills; Fabricated Metal Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Primary Metals; Machinery; Transportation Equipment; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Chemical Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Paper Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products. Four industries reported contraction during the period: Printing & Related Support Activities; Wood Products; Furniture & Related Products; and Nonmetallic Mineral Products.

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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