Economic activity in the manufacturing sector stays on the expansion side—but backs off a bit


According to the latest report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Report on Business, economic activity in this sector expanded in January for the 20th consecutive month. However, it's not as rosy a picture that you might think. The January PMI (Purchasing Managers' Index) registered 53.5%, a decrease of 1.6% from December's seasonally adjusted reading of 55.1%.

While staying on the "expanding" side of the benchmark (above 50 indicates an expansion, below 50 indicates a contraction), manufacturing isn't generally booming. Still, 15 of the 18 manufacturing industries the ISM survey monitors reported growth with Primary Metals at the top of that list. Transportation, which usually ranks high, was 10th on that list.

One respondent in the Transportation sector said, "Consumer demand remains strong for automotive. Seeking alternatives to maximize production with existing production capacity." The West Coast dockworkers slowdown continues to throw a monkey wrench into shipments to/from Asia.

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