US manufacturing sector shows renewed growth in April

01 May 2012 17:19  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US manufacturing sector gained more strength in April, according to a key industry measure issued on Tuesday, with production growth increasing across almost all industry sectors.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said that its monthly purchasing managers index (PMI) for last month shows a reading of 54.8%, an increase from the March measure of 53.4%.

With the pace of manufacturing showing increased expansion in both March and April, the PMI downturn to 52.4% recorded in February has been more than offset, and worries of a new contraction among production industries apparently were unwarranted.

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 33 of the 34 months since the end of the recession in June 2009, including a recent peak of 59.9% in January 2011.

However, in the second quarter of last year the PMI began to slide, dipping near the contraction line with a 51.8% reading in October 2011.

When the index eased to 52.4% in February this year, there were concerns that the 2011 slide might be repeating.

In its monthly report, the institute said that manufacturing growth was experienced in 16 of the 18 tracked production industries, including the separate categories of chemicals and plastics.

Bradley Holcomb, the institute’s survey manager, said that comments from surveyed purchasing managers “generally indicate stable to strong demand, with some concerns cited over increasing oil prices and European stability”.

Among the unidentified manufacturing executives quoted in the PMI report, a chemicals sector official said that “We expect our production levels to remain at the current level or increase over the next quarter”.

A plastics and rubber industry executive said that his company was experiencing “strong demand compared to previous year”.

The only manufacturing industry to report contraction in April was wood products, the institute said.  Performance in the textile mills industry was flat in April.

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

By: Joe Kamalick
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