United States: ISM manufacturing index improves but remains in contractionary territory in October
November 1, 2019
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index rose to 48.3 in October from 47.8 in September; however, the index undershot market expectations of 49.3 and remained below the 50-threshold that separates contraction from expansion in the sector.
The improvement was the result of a weaker contraction in new orders, which were boosted by a recovery in new export orders. Moreover, job losses also slowed in October. On the other hand, output fell at a sharper pace, which fed through to a faster decline in manufacturers’ backlogs of work, while stocks of inventory continued to decline, but at a softer rate.
On the supply side, supplier delivery times shortened in October for the first time in over three years and few respondents mentioned supply chain constraints or shortages. Meanwhile, customers’ inventories contracted at a slower rate and input cost inflation fell due to lower raw material prices.
Comments from the panel suggest manufacturers will continue to face tough operating conditions in the months ahead. One respondent noted that “customer demand is down, and we are expecting a very soft fourth quarter, without much relief in sight for Q1”, while another panelist commented that the “economy is showing slight signs of weakening. The same business headwinds on trade, tariffs, and currency uncertainty are making the environment challenging.”
Author: Lindsey Ice, Economist