While the latest report on manufacturing economic activity survey shows a continued expansion, the number is getting very close to the "contraction" point. The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) report for October shows a drop in its Purchasing Management Index (PMI) from 51.6 in September to 50.8 in October (50 is the benchmark - activity above 50 indicates an expansion, while a number below 50 indicates a contraction).
Of the 18 manufacturing industries the ISM survey covers, only eight reported growth in October - and the plastics industry was not one of those. Plastics was the number one industry reporting contraction in October in the ISM's ordered listing. One survey respondent in the plastics industry commented, "Business is slowing - not crashing - but uncertainty and caution is the order of the day."
Overall the survey represents the 27th consecutive month of expansion, but this year's monthly PMIs are also indicative of the roller coaster that manufacturers are on, which shows the instability the sector continues to experience.