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US Manufacturing Industry Expands in February: ISM

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US Manufacturing Industry Expands in February: ISM

Manufacturing output in the world’s largest economy gained traction in February, after a prolonged bout with severe weather strained factory activity the prior month.

The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of national manufacturing activity rose in February from 51.3 to 53.2. A median estimate of economists polled by Reuters forecast a gain of 0.7 percentage points. The US manufacturing industry has been above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction for nine consecutive months.

Fourteen of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in February, led by textile mills, wood products and machinery. The three industries to report declines were apparel and leather, petroleum and coal products and miscellaneous manufacturing, ISM data showed.

New orders expanded for the ninth consecutive month, led by wood products, paper products and textile mills. More than one-third of managers said new orders improved in February, compared to only 27 percent the prior month. Production declined for the third consecutive month, with February marking the first contraction in a year-and-a-half. Although production declined, manufacturers increased staffing levels for the eighth consecutive month.

Managers’ sentiment was relatively mixed in February, with some respondents indicating a continued lag due to bad weather.

“Cold weather is having a negative impact on our business,” said one manager from apparel and leather products. “Bad weather hampering logistics across the country,” said another from petroleum and coal products.

Conversely, other industries reported better conditions. “Higher than normal demand for this time a year,” said one manager from transportation equipment. “Business continues to be stronger,” said another from furniture and related products.

A separate report from Markit Group said manufacturing experienced its sharpest rebound in nearly four years, led by faster output and new order growth.

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