Manufacturing Activity Ticks Higher on October

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Monday’s economic data included the PMI Manufacturing Index flash reading, which rose unexpectedly to 53.2 for October. The September reading was 51.4, and Bloomberg had its consensus estimate at 51.2 for this month’s report.

Note that the 53.2 reading was above the high-end of the Econoday range of 50.9 to 51.7. That means that the report was handily better than expected, and it might even mean we are seeing a snap back in manufacturing activity as the fourth quarter gets off to the races.

IHS Markit’s report on manufacturing in the United States also showed the strongest rate of growth since October of 2015. Monday’s report indicated that there was a strength in new orders and in the order backlog. Output was at a year high, and input costs were nearly at a two-year high.

With the Federal Reserve wanting 2.0% to 2.5% inflation to justify hiking interest rates, note that some of the price hikes on input are getting passed on to buyers. Prices realized for sales were up for the first time in three months. Inventories also posted their first gain of 2016.

Much of the economic activity has been mixed of late, but this was based on data collected from October 12 to 21. That makes it “live data” and implies perhaps that the start of fall and end of summer weakness may have been abating.

You may not be alone in your presidential race stress. Some firms continued to report delayed decision making among clients, linked to uncertainty ahead of the election.

All in all, what matters is that output and new order growth hit one-year peaks, and manufacturers saw the fastest expansion of input buying since June 2015. Then there is the acceleration of input cost inflation to its strongest in almost two years as businesses are prepping (and hoping) for post-election upturn in client demand.

One negative issue in this flash report was continued hiring weakness. This is pressuring capacity, but we have seen other weak economic readings in employment for a month or so now.

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