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US Manufacturing Demand Expands

February 3, 2020

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in January, and the overall economy grew for the 129th 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 Manufacturing Business Survey Committee: "The January PMI registered 50.9 percent, an increase of 3.1 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 47.8 percent. The New Orders Index registered 52 percent, an increase of 4.4 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 47.6 percent. The Production Index registered 54.3 percent, up 9.5 percentage points compared to the seasonally adjusted December reading of 44.8 percent. The Backlog of Orders Index registered 45.7 percent, up 2.4 percentage points compared to the December reading of 43.3 percent. The Employment Index registered 46.6 percent, a 1.4-percentage point increase from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 45.2 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 52.9 percent, a 1.7-percentage point decrease from the December reading of 54.6 percent. The Inventories Index registered 48.8 percent, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 49.2 percent. The Prices Index registered 53.3 percent, a 1.6-percentage point increase from the December reading of 51.7 percent. The New Export Orders Index registered 53.3 percent, a 6-percentage point increase from the December reading of 47.3 percent. The Imports Index registered 51.3 percent, a 2.5-percentage point increase from the December reading of 48.8 percent.

"Comments from the panel were positive, with sentiment improving compared to December. The PMI returned to expansion territory for the first time since July 2019. Demand expanded, with (1) the New Orders Index growing at a moderate rate supported by new export order expansion, (2) the Customers' Inventories Index remaining at 'too low' status and (3) the Backlog of Orders Index contracting for the ninth month, but at a slower rate. Consumption (measured by the Production and Employment Indexes) expanded to respond to new order intake, contributing positively (a combined 10.9-percentage point increase) to the PMI calculation. Inputs expressed as supplier deliveries, inventories and imports weakened in January, due primarily to increasing contraction in inventories while supplier deliveries remained in expansion territory, but at a modest rate. Imports expansion returned, but also at a moderate rate. Inputs contributed negatively to the PMI calculation, a reversal from the previous month. Prices increased for the second month, a positive for 2020.

"Global trade remains a cross-industry issue, but many respondents were positive for the first time in several months. Among the six big industry sectors, Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products remains the strongest, followed closely by Computer & Electronic Products. Petroleum & Coal Products is the weakest. Overall, sentiment this month is moderately positive regarding near-term growth," says Fiore.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, eight reported growth in January listed in order are: Furniture & Related Products; Wood Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Chemical Products; and Fabricated Metal Products. The eight industries reporting contraction in January listed in order are: Printing & Related Support Activities; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Petroleum & Coal Products; Textile Mills; Transportation Equipment; Primary Metals; and Machinery.

WHAT RESPONDENTS ARE SAYING

  • "Business has picked up considerably. Many of our suppliers are working at or above full capacity. Tariffs are still a concern and are believed to be a factor in short supply and higher prices of electronic parts. Our profit margin has been somewhat negatively affected by high tariffs, particularly on electronic parts from China." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Small signs of increased global demand in the chemical segment." (Chemical Products)
  • "Continued signs of slowdown in manufacturing." (Transportation Equipment)
  • "Demand for prepared frozen food continues to be strong, but margins compressing as inputs rise with price elasticity preventing accompanying increases." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • "Our customer slowdown has not reached the bottom." (Petroleum & Coal Products)
  • "Our business is starting 2020 stronger than we finished 2019, as we saw a dramatic downturn in orders over the last four months of 2019. Orders are up to start the year, but slightly behind where they were one year ago." (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • "Business is good above last year, though a little below plan." (Furniture & Related Products)
  • "The annual holiday slowdown was slightly more significant compared to the previous three years, heightening concerns over the 2020 first-quarter forecast." (Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components)
  • "The lack of faith in the economy seems to be why we cannot sell capital projects." (Machinery)
  • "Tariffs on injection molds will impact selection of mold builder for future jobs. We are more likely to choose domestic rather than offshore." (Plastics & Rubber Products)

MANUFACTURING AT A GLANCE

January 2020

Index

Series
Index

Jan

Series
Index

Dec

Percentage

Point

Change

Direction

Rate of
Change

Trend*
(Months)

PMI

50.9

47.8

+3.1

Growing

From Contracting

1

New Orders

52.0

47.6

+4.4

Growing

From Contracting

1

Production

54.3

44.8

+9.5

Growing

From Contracting

1

Employment

46.6

45.2

+1.4

Contracting

Slower

6

Supplier Deliveries

52.9

54.6

-1.7

Slowing

Slower

3

Inventories

48.8

49.2

-0.4

Contracting

Faster

8

Customers' Inventories

43.8

41.1

+2.7

Too Low

Slower

40

Prices

53.3

51.7

+1.6

Increasing

Faster

2

Backlog of Orders

45.7

43.3

+2.4

Contracting

Slower

9

New Export Orders

53.3

47.3

+6.0

Growing

From Contracting

1

Imports

51.3

48.8

+2.5

Growing

From Contracting

1

OVERALL ECONOMY

Growing

Faster

129

Manufacturing Sector

Growing

From Contracting

1

Manufacturing ISM Report On Business data is seasonally adjusted for the New Orders, Production, Employment and Inventories Indexes.
*Number of months moving in current direction.
Indexes reflect newly released seasonal adjustment factors.

COMMODITIES REPORTED UP/DOWN IN PRICE AND IN SHORT SUPPLY

Commodities Up in Price
Aluminum Products* (2); Fabricated Metal Products; Oil; Scrap Metals (2); Steel Cold Rolled; and Steel Hot Rolled (3).
 

Commodities Down in Price
Aluminum Products*; Caustic Soda (4); Freight (4); Natural Gas (2); Polyester; and Polypropylene (3).
 

Commodities in Short Supply
Fabricated Metal Products; and Labor Temporary.

Note: The number of consecutive months the commodity is listed is indicated after each item.
*Indicates both up and down in price.

JANUARY 2020 MANUFACTURING INDEX SUMMARIES

PMI
Manufacturing expanded in January, as the PMI registered 50.9 percent, an increase of 3.1 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 47.8 percent. "The PMI expanded in January after contracting for five straight months. Four of the big six industries expanded, compared with two in December. Six of the PMI's 10 subindexes recorded expansion, a marked improvement from the final months of 2019," says Fiore. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.

A PMI above 42.8 percent, over a period of time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the January PMI indicates growth for the 129th consecutive month in the overall economy, and the first month of growth after five months of contraction in the manufacturing sector. "The past relationship between the PMI and the overall economy indicates that the PMI for January (50.9 percent) corresponds to a 2.4-percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis," says Fiore.

THE LAST 12 MONTHS

Month

PMI


 

Month

PMI

Jan 2020

50.9


 

Jul 2019

51.3

Dec 2019

47.8


 

Jun 2019

51.6

Nov 2019

48.1


 

May 2019

52.3

Oct 2019

48.5


 

Apr 2019

53.4

Sep 2019

48.2


 

Mar 2019

54.6

Aug 2019

48.8


 

Feb 2019

54.1

Average for 12 months 50.8

High 54.6

Low 47.8

New Orders
ISM's New Orders Index registered 52 percent in January, an increase of 4.4 percentage points when compared to the seasonally adjusted 47.6 percent reported for December. This indicates that new orders grew for the first month after contracting for five straight months. "Of the top six industry sectors, four expanded, with Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and Chemical Products expanding respectably. Transportation Equipment continues to face headwinds, but that sector's performance significantly improved compared to December. The index had its strongest reading since July 2019, when it registered 51.1 percent," says Fiore. A New Orders Index above 52.5 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Census Bureau's series on manufacturing orders (in constant 2000 dollars).

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 10 reported growth in new orders in January, in the following order:  Wood Products; Furniture & Related Products; Primary Metals; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Computer & Electronic Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Chemical Products; Fabricated Metal Products; and Machinery. The five industries reporting a decline in new orders in January are: Printing & Related Support Activities; Textile Mills; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Transportation Equipment.

New Orders

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

24.8

54.4

20.8

+4.0

52.0

Dec 2019

18.6

51.2

30.2

-11.6

47.6

Nov 2019

20.5

48.3

31.2

-10.7

46.8

Oct 2019

20.5

51.0

28.5

-8.0

48.9

Production
ISM's Production Index registered 54.3 percent in January, which is 9.5 percentage points higher than the seasonally adjusted 44.8 percent reported for December, registering one month of growth after five consecutive months of contraction. "Five of six big industry sectors expanded, all moderately to strongly responding to new order intake and continuing to consume backlog. Consumption was at a lower rate. The index had its best reading since April 2019 (54.3 percent)," says Fiore. An index above 51.7 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Federal Reserve Board's Industrial Production figures.

The seven industries reporting growth in production during the month of January listed in order are: Furniture & Related Products; Wood Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Fabricated Metal Products; and Chemical Products. The seven industries reporting a decrease in production in January listed in order are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Transportation Equipment; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Plastics & Rubber Products; and Machinery.

Production

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

25.3

55.9

18.8

+6.5

54.3

Dec 2019

15.8

49.8

34.4

-18.6

44.8

Nov 2019

20.3

56.3

23.4

-3.1

48.0

Oct 2019

20.8

49.5

29.7

-8.9

46.3

Employment
ISM's Employment Index registered 46.6 percent in January, an increase of 1.4 percentage points compared to the seasonally adjusted December reading of 45.2 percent. "This is the sixth month of employment contraction, but at a slower rate compared to December. Among the six big industry sectors, one expanded and four contracted, as in the previous month. Labor was reported to be in short supply. Panelist comments were generally positive regarding future employment potential," says Fiore. An Employment Index above 50.8 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on manufacturing employment.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, four reported employment growth in January: Wood Products; Furniture & Related Products; Paper Products; and Computer & Electronic Products. The 10 industries reporting a decrease in employment in January, in the following order, are: Petroleum & Coal Products; Primary Metals; Textile Mills; Transportation Equipment; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Machinery; Fabricated Metal Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Chemical Products.

Employment

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

11.7

66.0

22.3

-10.6

46.6

Dec 2019

11.5

63.7

24.8

-13.3

45.2

Nov 2019

13.9

64.9

21.2

-7.3

46.8

Oct 2019

16.3

62.3

21.4

-5.1

47.9

Supplier Deliveries
The delivery performance of suppliers to manufacturing organizations was slower in January, as the Supplier Deliveries Index registered 52.9 percent. This is 1.7 percentage points lower than the 54.6 percent reported for December. "Suppliers continue to struggle to deliver to panelists' satisfaction, with many suppliers sluggish to respond after the post-holiday period. Lead times appear to be stabilizing. The index expansion, coupled with price growth, continues to be a positive indicator for the balance of Q1. Supplier capacity remains at satisfactory levels to support near-term production demand," says Fiore. A reading below 50 percent indicates faster deliveries, while a reading above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries.

The nine industries reporting slower supplier deliveries in January listed in order are: Furniture & Related Products; Textile Mills; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Fabricated Metal Products; Chemical Products; and Machinery. The six industries reporting faster supplier deliveries in January listed in order are: Wood Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Paper Products; Primary Metals; and Transportation Equipment.

Supplier Deliveries

%Slower

%Same

%Faster

Net

Index

Jan 2020

16.8

72.3

10.9

+5.9

52.9

Dec 2019

11.5

81.4

7.0

+4.5

54.6

Nov 2019

11.3

80.8

8.0

+3.3

52.0

Oct 2019

10.0

80.1

9.9

+0.1

49.5

Inventories*
The Inventories Index registered 48.8 percent in January, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from the seasonally adjusted 49.2 percent reported for December. "The index contracted for the eighth straight month at a faster rate, as growth in consumption driven by new order improvements drew down inventory accounts," says Fiore. An Inventories Index greater than 44.3 percent, over time, is generally consistent with expansion in the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) figures on overall manufacturing inventories (in chained 2000 dollars).

The seven industries reporting higher inventories in January, in the following order, are: Wood Products; Furniture & Related Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Transportation Equipment; Plastics & Rubber Products; and Chemical Products. The seven industries reporting a decrease in inventories in January listed in order are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Petroleum & Coal Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Computer & Electronic Products; and Machinery.

Inventories

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

18.2

61.2

20.6

-2.4

48.8

Dec 2019

17.5

58.1

24.4

-6.9

49.2

Nov 2019

15.4

60.2

24.4

-9.0

47.2

Oct 2019

19.8

58.1

22.1

-2.3

49.4

Customers' Inventories*
ISM's Customers' Inventories Index registered 43.8 percent in January, which is 2.7 percentage points higher than the 41.1 percent reported for December, indicating that customers' inventory levels were considered too low. "Customers' inventories are too low for the 40th consecutive month but are moving closer to 'about right' territory. These inventories remain at a healthy level to support future production output," says Fiore.

Of 18 industries, the three reporting higher customer inventories in January are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and Transportation Equipment. The 10 industries reporting customers' inventories as too low during January listed in order are: Paper Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Furniture & Related Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Chemical Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Machinery.

Customers' Inventories

% Reporting

%Too High

%About Right

%Too Low

Net

Index

Jan 2020

77

10.1

67.5

22.4

-12.3

43.8

Dec 2019

79

8.8

64.7

26.5

-17.7

41.1

Nov 2019

76

9.7

70.6

19.7

-10.0

45.0

Oct 2019

79

15.4

64.7

19.9

-4.5

47.8

Prices*
The ISM Prices Index registered 53.3 percent in January, an increase of 1.6 percentage points from the December reading of 51.7 percent, indicating raw materials prices increased for a second straight month following six months of decreases. "Prices increased in January, supported by growth in steel and aluminum prices and registered their highest level since March 2019, when the index recorded 54.3 percent," says Fiore. A Prices Index above 52.5 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Producer Price Index for Intermediate Materials.

The 10 industries reporting paying increased prices for raw materials in January listed in order are: Textile Mills; Primary Metals; Fabricated Metal Products; Wood Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Machinery; and Chemical Products. The four industries reporting a decrease in prices for raw materials in January are: Plastics & Rubber Products; Paper Products; Furniture & Related Products; and Transportation Equipment.

Prices

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

23.8

59.2

17.1

+6.7

53.3

Dec 2019

16.5

70.5

13.0

+3.5

51.7

Nov 2019

14.6

64.2

21.3

-6.7

46.7

Oct 2019

15.7

59.6

24.7

-9.0

45.5

Backlog of Orders*
ISM's Backlog of Orders Index registered 45.7 percent in January, which is 2.4 percentage points higher than the 43.3 percent reported in December, indicating order backlogs contracted for the ninth consecutive month, at a slower rate in January. "Backlog contraction continues but at weaker levels compared to the previous month, a positive for the future months. The marked change in percentage of respondents reporting higher backlogs is a clear improvement over December. The index remains in moderate contraction territory, however. Four of the six big industry sectors' backlogs contracted during the period," says Fiore.

Five of the 18 industries reported growth in order backlogs in January: Wood Products; Primary Metals; Furniture & Related Products; Paper Products; and Computer & Electronic Products. Eleven industries reported lower order backlogs in January, in the following order: Textile Mills; Printing & Related Support Activities; Petroleum & Coal Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Plastics & Rubber Products; Machinery; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Fabricated Metal Products; and Chemical Products.

Backlog of Orders

% Reporting

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

88

17.1

57.2

25.6

-8.5

45.7

Dec 2019

89

12.6

61.4

26.0

-13.4

43.3

Nov 2019

90

16.2

53.7

30.1

-13.9

43.0

Oct 2019

88

16.4

55.3

28.2

-11.8

44.1

New Export Orders*
ISM's New Export Orders Index registered 53.3 percent in January, an increase of 6 percentage points compared to the December reading of 47.3 percent. After contracting five times in the previous six months, the index moved back into growth. "New Export Orders recorded their best performance since September 2018, when the index registered 56 percent. This provided positive support to the New Orders Index. Two of the six big industry sectors expanded during the period, with Computer & Electronics Products recording strong performance," says Fiore.

The six industries reporting growth in new export orders in January, in the following order, are: Wood Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Paper Products; and Chemical Products. The four industries reporting a decrease in new export orders in January are: Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Transportation Equipment; and Machinery. Seven industries reported no change in new export orders in January.

New Export Orders

% Reporting

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

77

15.4

75.9

8.8

+6.6

53.3

Dec 2019

79

11.3

72.2

16.6

-5.3

47.3

Nov 2019

77

11.0

73.9

15.1

-4.1

47.9

Oct 2019

76

18.1

64.7

17.2

0.9

50.4

Imports*
ISM's Imports Index registered 51.3 percent in January, 2.5 percentage points higher when compared to the 48.8 percent reported for December. This indicates that imports grew after six consecutive months of contraction. "Imports returned to expansion territory, with the index recording its best performance since February 2019 (55.3 percent). Respondents continued to note the Lunar New Year as a significant contributor to improved performance," says Fiore.

The eight industries reporting growth in imports in January listed in order are: Wood Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Plastics & Rubber Products; and Machinery. The four industries reporting a decrease in imports in January are: Primary Metals; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Chemical Products; and Transportation Equipment. Six industries reported no change in imports in January.

Imports

% Reporting

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Net

Index

Jan 2020

84

13.6

75.4

11.0

+2.6

51.3

Dec 2019

85

13.3

71.0

15.7

-2.4

48.8

Nov 2019

82

10.3

76.1

13.6

-3.3

48.3

Oct 2019

80

6.6

77.3

16.1

-9.5

45.3

*The Inventories, Customers' Inventories, Prices, Backlog of Orders, New Export Orders and Imports Indexes do not meet the accepted criteria for seasonal adjustments.

Buying Policy
Average commitment lead time for Capital Expenditures decreased by seven days in January to 140 days. Average lead time for Production Materials increased by two days in January to 65 days. Average lead time for Maintenance, Repair and Operating (MRO) Supplies decreased by five days in January to 32 days.

Percent Reporting


 

Capital Expenditures

Hand-to-Mouth

30 Days

60 Days

90 Days

6 Months

1 Year+

Average Days

Jan 2020

22

4

10

20

25

19

140

Dec 2019

20

5

9

19

26

21

147

Nov 2019

20

6

11

16

27

20

144

Oct 2019

22

5

11

14

27

21

146


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Production Materials

Hand-to-Mouth

30 Days

60 Days

90 Days

6 Months

1 Year+

Average Days

Jan 2020

11

34

27

18

8

2

65

Dec 2019

11

33

28

20

6

2

63

Nov 2019

12

36

28

16

6

2

61

Oct 2019

12

35

24

20

7

2

63


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MRO Supplies

Hand-to-Mouth

30 Days

60 Days

90 Days

6 Months

1 Year+

Average Days

Jan 2020

40

36

14

8

2

0

32

Dec 2019

40

35

15

5

4

1

37

Nov 2019

41

36

16

4

3

0

31

Oct 2019

41

38

15

4

2

0

30

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