U.S. Manufacturing Expansion Quickens, Optimism Remains


U.S. manufacturing expanded at a quicker pace in February, according to the closely followed Institute for Supply Management (ISM) index. The index rose to 53.2% from January's 51.3%, which was the weakest reading since May of 2013. However, it remains below November's recent peak reading of 57, which is the highest since April of 2011.

Economist expectations for the manufacturing index had ranged generally from 52.0 to 52.5. Any reading over 50 indicates expansion in the sector, while a reader lower than that signals contraction.

The ISM's new-orders gauge rebounded from a steep drop to 51.2% in January to 54.5% last month. The employment gauge remained flat at 52.3%. But the production subindex shrank to 48.2 from 54.8, its third straight monthly decline. That was the first time since August of 2012 that figure dropped below 50.

ISM chair Bradley J. Holcomb said in the Monday morning release:

As in January, several comments from the panel mention adverse weather conditions as a factor impacting their businesses in February. Other comments reflect optimism in terms of demand and growth in the near term.

Filed under: Economy