September PMI up 2%

Latest reading puts the manufacturing sector back in growth mode, though purchasing managers are still concerned about long-term outlook

Business activity in the manufacturing sector grew in September following three straight months of decline, purchasing managers said in the latest Report on Business from the Institute for Supply Management.

ISM’s September purchasing manager’s index (PMI) registered 51.5, up 1.9% over August’s reading and marking the first time in three months the index has moved into growth territory. Growth in new orders and employment were good news as well, although survey respondents expressed lingering concern over the long-term economic outlook.

“…Comments from the panel reflect a mix of optimism over new orders beginning to pick up, and continued concern over soft global business conditions and an unsettled political environment,” Bradley J. Holcomb, chairman of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee said in announcing the results October 1.

ISM’s new orders index rose five points to 52.3, surpassing the 50-point mark indicating growth for the first time in three straight months. ISM’s production index edged but up remained in contraction, gaining 2.3 points to 49.5. The employment index gained 3.1 points for a reading of 54.7.

Purchasing managers also reported paying higher prices in September, as the prices index rose 4 points to 58. This marks an 18.5% increase in the prices index over the last two months, with 27% of respondents citing higher prices during the month.

The news came on the heels of a disappointing report from ISM Chicago last week, as purchasing managers in the Midwest reported a contracting manufacturing climate for the first time in three years.  The Chicago PMI registered 49.7 in September, the first time it has dropped below 50 since September 2009.

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