(ISM) bumped up 1.9%, registering 53.2% on ISM's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), regaining some of January's 5.2% decline. From comments on the ISM's survey, it appears that adverse weather conditions were "a factor impacting their businesses," commented Bradley J. Holcomb, CPSM, CPSD, chair of the ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "Other comments reflect optimism in terms of demand and growth in the near term.
The new orders index was up 3.3% to 54.5% from January's 51.2%, but the production index was down significantly in February (6.6%) to 48.2%, showing a contraction from January's 54.8%. Employment held steady at 52.3%, the same as January. Inventories are growing, up 8.5% to 52.5% in February from 44.0% in January. (Editor's note: That could have something to do with the slower production index numbers - inventories might be slightly too high.)
Customer inventories continue to be too low, rising from 44.0% in January to 46.5% in February. However the Order Backlog Index rose 4.0% to 52.0% in February from 48.0% in January.
Of the 18 manufacturing industries the ISM's Report on Business tracks, 14 reported growth in February, with "plastics & rubber products" ranking fifth in order of growth. Fabricated metal products, which includes molds and tooling, was down the list at 12th and one survey respondent commented that they "continue to have trouble finding qualified CNC machinists. Desperately trying to hire CNC programmers."
A comment from a respondent in the plastics & rubber industry noted, "We are seeing competition heat up this year."