Last Update: 03-Mar-14 10:25 ET
- In a role reversal, the ISM Manufacturing Index improved in February to 53.2 from 51.3 in January. The Briefing.com consensus expected the index to increase to 51.3.
- In January, the Federal Reserve regional manufacturing surveys showed stronger manufacturing conditions. Yet, the national ISM Index recorded its biggest one-month fall since October 2008. In February, those same regional manufacturing surveys deteriorated. In a hint of irony, the national index showed sizable growth this month.
- As the trends clearly show, the national and regional indicators do not represent a good guide on manufacturing levels.Levels for both new orders (54.5 from 51.2) and unfilled orders (52.0 from 48.0) strengthened in February. The gains in orders, however, were not enough to keep production from contracting. That index fell to 48.2 in February from 54.8 in January.
- The Employment Index was unchanged at 52.3.
- This is a highly overrated index. It is merely a survey of purchasing managers. It is a diffusion index, which means that it reflects the number of people saying conditions are better compared to the number saying conditions are worse. It does not weight for size of the firm, or for the degree of better/worse. It can therefore underestimate conditions if there is a great deal of strength in a few firms. The data have thus not been either a good forecasting tool or a good read on current conditions during this business cycle. It must be recognized that the index is not hard data of any kind, but simply a survey that provides broad indications of trends.
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