Manufacturing Survey Shows Small Drop

The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is essentially unchanged for April at 55.4, according to a Markit report (link opens as PDF) released today.

The "flash" estimate is typically based on approximately 85% to 90% of total PMI survey responses each month and is designed to provide an accurate advance indication of the final PMI data. An above-50 reading denotes general growth, while below 50 signals contraction.

This month's report clocked in at 55.4, a slight 0.1 points below March's 55.5 reading. Analysts had expected stronger overall April growth, predicting a 0.8 point increase to 56.3. 

Despite the lack of top-line movement, optimists will be quick to point out strong growth for some of the index's most important components. New orders increased 0.8 points to 58.9, while new export orders also added on 0.8 points to reach 51.9. Output was especially strong, notching a 0.7-point boost to 58.2, its fastest growth in over three years. Survey respondents mainly cited improving underlying economic conditions and
stronger domestic demand for the bump in production, according to Markit. 

"With manufacturing acting as a good bellwether of the rest of the economy, the survey bodes well for further robust economic growth in the second quarter," said Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson in a statement today. "Companies are taking on staff to build operating capacity in the face of an increasingly favorable outlook. The April survey recorded ongoing job creation in the region of 10-15k per month in the goods producing sector."

Williamson also noted that, despite the upturn in economic activity, price pressures remain low, allowing manufacturers to continue to grow. The Markit report says input costs showed the smallest rise seen over the past year and prices charged barely rose. The lack of price movement serves as fodder for economic bears who believe "the recovery remains on a weak foundation of intense price competition," Williamson was quoted as saying.


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