US manufacturing grew in Jan for 30th straight month - ISM

01 February 2012 16:29  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US manufacturing sector expanded in January from December, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Wednesday, marking the 30th month of growth since the US recession ended in June 2009.

The institute said that its carefully watched purchasing managers index (PMI) grew to 54.1% in January, up from the December measure of 53.1%.

The PMI is a composite of supplier responses to the ISM’s monthly survey of 10 different business performance measures in 18 major manufacturing sectors.

A PMI reading above 50% indicates the US manufacturing sector is expanding, while an index measure below 50% means production is contracting.

The PMI has been above 51% for 30 of the 32 months since the end of the recession in June 2009, including a recent peak of 59.9% in January 2011.

Although the January 2012 PMI shows continued strength, the index remains below the 59%-plus range that prevailed in the first four months of 2011. But comments from manufacturing executives surveyed by the ISM indicate growing confidence for the year ahead.

“The economy seems to be slowing improving,” an official in the fabricated metal products sector said.

“Indications are that [the] 2012 business environment will improve over 2011,” said an executive in the transportation manufacturing industry.

A chemical products manufacturer said he is still seeing raw materials pricing moving down in general, but he expects inflation later in the quarter.

While nine of the 18 manufacturing sectors surveyed by the ISM reported growth in January, seven others indicated contraction – including chemical products and plastics and rubber manufacturers. Two sectors were flat.

Overall, however, ISM said the short-term future for manufacturing looks good.

Bradley Holcomb, chairman of the institute’s survey committee, noted: “Manufacturing is starting out the year on a positive note, with new orders, production and employment all growing in January.”

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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