Mixed Manufacturing Index Readings Ahead of FOMC Decision on Rates

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This week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting is still looking more toward a December rate hike rather than a November one being telegraphed. That being said, economic data has looked weak in many cases to very muted growth in others. We have already seen mixed data on gross domestic product and durable goods, and now we have two fresh readings on manufacturing.

The PMI Manufacturing Index was released on Tuesday morning, with a surprise uptick of almost two points. October’s index reading rose to 53.4 from 51.5 in September.

A rise in new orders was the culprit for this positive reading. That is two-tenths higher than the earlier flash index reading seen in October as well. Domestic demand was cited for this strength, but exports did tick up also. Backlogs rose as well and hit a three-month high.

The more widely followed ISM Manufacturing Index was actually less positive, but positive nonetheless. October’s PMI reading rose to 51.9. This was up from the Bloomberg consensus estimate of 51.6, but easily within their Econoday range of 50.6 to 52.2. September’s ISM Manufacturing index was 51.5.

ISM showed the following data:

  • New orders disappointed at 52.1 in October, versus 55.1 in September.
  • Backlog orders were soft at 45.5, which marked the fourth straight month of below 50 readings (contraction).
  • New export orders were 52.5 in October, versus 52.0 in September.
  • Production rose to 54.6 in October from 53.0 in September.
  • Employment rose to 52.9 in October from 49.7 in September.
  • Input costs signaled inflation with a rise to 54.5 in October from 53.0 in September.
  • Over the last 12 months, the ISM’s PMI reading has averaged 50.6, with a high of 53.2 and a low of 48.0.

Here was a breakdown of the ISM Index by sector:

  • The eight industries reporting growth in new orders in October (listed in order) are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Petroleum & Coal Products; Paper Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Computer & Electronic Products; and Chemical Products.
  • The eight industries reporting a decrease in new orders during October (listed in order) are: Wood Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Transportation Equipment; Fabricated Metal Products; Primary Metals; and Machinery.