Manufacturing index shows signs of improvement

The ISM manufacturing index showed some signs of improvement.
The ISM manufacturing index showed some signs of improvement.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector failed to grow in May for the 16th consecutive month, according to a survey of the nation's supply executives by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

The report, issued today by Norbert J. Ore, chair of the ISM manufacturing business survey committee, indicated that companies in the machinery industry, which includes farm equipment, reported growth in new orders last month.

Overall, the nation's manufacturing has been rebounding since hitting bottom at around December of last year, but the sector is still not into positive growth, ISM reported.

Employment and inventories continued to decline at a rapid rate and the overall manufacturing sector continued to contract during the month, Ore said. But he added that some positive signs were mixed in with the negative news.

"May is the first month of growth in the new orders index since November 2007, with nine of 18 industries reporting growth," Ore said. "New orders are considered a leading indicator and the index has risen rapidly after bottoming at 23.1 percent in December 2008."

Also, the index showing customer inventories remained below 50 percent for the second consecutive month, offering encouragement that supply chains are starting to free themselves of excess inventories as nine industries report their customers’ inventories as "too low," ISM reported.