Mixed signals still plague manufacturing, but according to the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) February Manufacturing Report On Business, the sector expanded for the 19th consecutive month with a Purchasing Management Index (PMI) rose to 61.4% from 60.8% in January.
“February’s report from the manufacturing sector indicates continuing strong performance as the PMI registered 61.4%, a level last achieved in May 2004,” commented Norbert J. Ore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. “New orders and production, driven by strength in exports in particular, continue to drive the composite index. New orders are growing significantly faster than inventories, and the Customers’ Employment Index is above 60% for only the third time in the last decade.”
However, Ore added a caveat: “While there are many positive indicators, there is also concern as industries related to housing continue to struggle and the Prices Index indicates significant inflation of raw material costs across commodities,” he said....