Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in April, and the overall economy grew for the 108th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.
The report was issued today by Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., Chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee: “The April PMI registered 57.3 percent, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the March reading of 59.3 percent. The New Orders Index registered 61.2 percent, a decrease of 0.7 percentage point from the March reading of 61.9 percent. The Production Index registered 57.2 percent, a 3.8 percentage point decrease compared to the March reading of 61 percent. The Employment Index registered 54.2 percent, a decrease of 3.1 percentage points from the March reading of 57.3 percent. The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 61.1 percent, a 0.5 percentage point increase from the March reading of 60.6 percent. The Inventories Index registered 52.9 percent, a decrease of 2.6 percentage points from the March reading of 55.5 percent. The Prices Index registered 79.3 percent in April, a 1.2 percentage point increase from the March reading of 78.1 percent, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 26th consecutive month. Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength. Demand remains strong, with the New Orders Index at 60 or above for the 12th straight month, and the Customers’ Inventories Index remaining at low levels. The Backlog of Orders Index continued expanding, with its highest reading since May 2004, when it registered 63 percent. Consumption, described as production and employment, continues to expand, but has been restrained by labor and skill shortages. Inputs, expressed as supplier deliveries, inventories and imports, declined overall, due primarily to inventory reductions likely led by supplier performance restrictions. Lead time extensions, steel and aluminum disruptions, supplier labor issues, and transportation difficulties continue. Export orders remained strong. The Prices Index is at its highest level since April 2011, when it registered 82.6 percent. In April, price increases occurred across 17 of 18 industry sectors. Demand remains robust, but the nation’s employment resources and supply chains continue to struggle.”
Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 17 reported growth in April, in the following order: Wood Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Fabricated Metal Products; Transportation Equipment; Furniture & Related Products; Paper Products; Machinery; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Chemical Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Apparel, Leather & Allied Products. No industry reported a decrease in PMI® in April compared to March.
WHAT RESPONDENTS ARE SAYING
- “We are seeing strong sales in the U.S., Europe and Asia.” (Chemical Products)
- “Business is off the charts. This is causing many collateral issues: a tightening supply chain market and longer lead times. Subcontractors are trading capacity up, leading to a bidding war for the marginal capacity. Labor remains tight and getting tighter.” (Transportation Equipment)
- “Shortages of trucks and drivers has impacted delivery times.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
- “The recent steel tariffs have made it difficult to source material, and we have had to eliminate two products due to availability and cost of raw material.” (Fabricated Metal Products)
- “Demand is up for products. Commodity pricing for steel and other materials increased due to the proposed tariffs. We are seeing commodity futures coming down. A lot of suppliers are asking for increases, and the team is battling those requests.” (Machinery)
- “[The] 232 and 301 tariffs are very concerning. Business planning is at a standstill until they are resolved. Significant amount of manpower [on planning and the like] being expended on these issues.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
- “Production orders at this time are still strong and being driven partially by construction factors and customers purchasing ahead to avoid potential price increases.” (Plastics & Rubber Products)
- “The general outlook for 2018 remains positive and upbeat as we see continued signs of a growing economy and investment in housing and infrastructure.” (Nonmetallic Mineral Products)
- “Business conditions have been good; order book is full and running around 98 percent capacity.” (Primary Metals)
- “Backorders remain strong. New order rate exceeds shipment rate.” (Computer & Electronic Products)