The Chicago Business Barometer fell to a five and one-half year low in February. The MNI Indicators survey of purchasing and supply professionals plunged 13.6 points to 45.8 in February. It was the first contraction of the Barometer since April 2013 and the lowest level since July 2009.
The West Coast port slowdown and frigid blizzard conditions on the East Coast negatively impacted supplier deliveries, the only component of the Barometer to rise in February.
Double digit decline was recorded in orders, production, backlogs and employment, placing all the components below the 50 neutral point on the Barometer. New orders were at their lowest point since 2009. Employment slid from a 14 month high in January.
Inventories continue to contract after falling 15 points in January, but at a slower pace. The inventory drawdown was planned, according to purchasers surveyed, and levels are expected to pick up as warmer weather returns. Price pressure was still evident in February.
“It’s too early to conclude that February represents a change in the relatively strong trend seen recently. Nonetheless, the weakness in the Barometer points to softer GDP growth over the first quarter than previously expected,” commented MNI Indicators.
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