In yet one more indication that yesterday's report of a scant 0.1% increase in the first-quarter gross domestic product growth was just an outlier, the Institute for Supply Management, a key trade group, has just reported that its gauge of manufacturing activity had risen further in the just-completed month.
In all, this survey, in which a reading above 50.0 signals that growth in this core industrial sector is being recorded, rose from March's 53.7 to a result of 54.7 for last month. This latest findings marked the 11th consecutive month in which this series had come in above 50.0, thereby signaling an expansion in this industrial category. Expectations for the latest month had been 54.3. Thus, this was a narrow beat, but a reassuring one, nonetheless.
All told, April's result was the best monthly performance by this sector since last December when the ISM had reported an activity level of 56.5. For the past 12 months, the average showing by this sector has been a solid 54.4, just a bit less than was recorded in the past month. All of this is within a 12-month range of 50.0 (in May of 2013) to 57.0 (last November).
Breaking the survey down, we find that 17 of the 18 industries reporting their results showed month-to-month improvement, led by makers of apparel, leather and allied products, primary metals, furniture and related products, and miscellaneous manufacturing. The lone industry reporting a contraction in April was nonmetallic mineral products.
Also, in individual categories, we see that month-to-month strengthening was posted by employment, which rose from 51.1 to 54.7; in supplier deliveries, which went from 54.0 to 55.9; and in exports, which ticked from 55.5 to 57.0. On the other hand, growth in prices and backlogs both slowed, but remained solid. Encouragingly, not one of the individual categories showed a contraction.
Meanwhile, respondents noted in their industry summations that business was strong and continued to grow in the textile area, while fabricated metals noted the likelihood of pent-up demand following the arduous winter. Finally, in transportation equipment, it was noted that overall business was up, as was hiring in this area.
This upbeat report followed some mixed tidings issued earlier today. Of note, the government had reported better-than-expected increases in personal income and personal consumption expenditures during March, but the Labor Department noted a modest increase in jobless claims for the latest week.
At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.