Chicago Business Barometer Remains Below 50 in March

Written by Brett Linton

The Chicago Business Barometer rose slightly in March after hitting a five and a half year low in February. The MNI Indicators survey of purchasing and supply professionals rose 0.5 points to 46.3 in March. However, any level below 50.0 indicates business conditions are shrinking and not increasing so the 46.3 number is not a positive for the steel industry.

The following is a section from their press release issued early Tuesday morning. The full release can be read here.

The Chicago Business Barometer remained in contraction for the second consecutive month in March, failing to bounce back from the sharp plunge in February and pointing to a slowdown in the US economy.

The Barometer increased 0.5 point to 46.3 in March, following a 13.6 point drop in February to a 5½-year low. The Chicago Business Barometer averaged 50.5 in Q1, down from 61.3 in Q4 and the lowest outturn since Q3 2009. While part of this decline may be attributable to the cold weather snap and strike action at west coast ports, the continued weakness in March points to a wider slowdown in business conditions.

Of the five components which make up the Barometer, Production posted the sharpest increase, rising 4.5 points to 49.3, but remaining below the 50 breakeven level. New Orders and Order Backlogs rose slightly, but like Production were unable to move out of contraction after suffering double digit losses in February. A small rise in Employment was in line with muted gains in the ordering components, lifting it back above 50. Supplier Deliveries was the only component to decrease in March.

Brett Linton

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