ISM PMI Hits 60.8 in September

Written by Sandy Williams

Manufacturing expanded in the United States, along with the overall economy, as the Institute for Supply Management’s September PMI jumped 2 percentage points to register 60.8 percent. ISM’s New Orders Index gained 4.3 points. New orders have averaged 61.6 percent since December 2016, said Timothy R. Fiore, chairman of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. Any reading above 50 percent indicates growth.

“Production remains at strong growth levels in most industries, in spite of weather conditions and supplier delivery constraints experienced during the period,” said Fiore. The Order Backlog Index increased 0.5 points to 58 percent.

Employment has been expanding since October 2016 and September’s increase of 0.4 percent was no exception. September’s Employment Index reading of 60.3 percent was the highest since June 2011.

Supplier deliveries slowed somewhat last month and the Raw Material Inventories Index declined 3 percentage points to 52.2. Customer inventories were considered too low in September, registering 42 percent and just 1.0 percent higher than August.

The Prices Index leapt 9.5 percentage points to a reading of 71.5. Fiore commented, “The Business Survey Committee noted price increases in many areas, including metals (steel and aluminum), food ingredients, electronic components, lumber and wood products, basic chemicals and plastics. The ongoing impacts from Hurricane Harvey are still largely unknown, and many respondents noted this uncertainty.”

Exports were up and imports down, according to the ISM survey. New Export Orders increased 1.5 points to 57 percent, while the Import Index decreased 0.5 of a point to 54 percent.

Survey participant comments:

  • “Hurricanes causing supply chain and pricing issues.” (Chemical Products)
  • “Business levels continue [to be] strong; usually by now, a seasonal downturn begins.” (Machinery)
  • “Energy sector (oil and gas) continues to be strong. Price of oil appears to be beginning to stabilize.” (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • “We’ve had a very good year and we are forecasting continued strong demand for our product in 2018.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • “Labor shortages continue to haunt operational capacity both at [the] local plant [level] and up and down the supply chain.”(Transportation Equipment)
  • “Lumber prices starting to drop, and log prices starting to increase. Not the best combination.” (Wood Products)

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