According to Reuters (4/2), the Institute for Supply Management announced that its manufacturing index dropped from 52.9 in February to 51.5 in March, marking its lowest growth rate in 22 months.
The AP (4/2, Boak) reports that the dropping in oil prices, the rising value of the dollar, winter weather, and the remaining effects of the West Coast port dispute that “created a backlog of shipments” have hindered US manufacturers recently. According to the AP, the index still shows US factories are expanding as “any reading above 50 signals expansion”; however, the survey found that “demand for exports has been contracting” over the last three months and operations at oil rigs have slowed or even stopped. The article also notes that 10 out of the 18 manufacturing industries reported growth and seven reported a decline in March, with the declining industries including “apparel, textiles, petroleum and coal, electrical equipment, plastics and rubber products and furniture.”
Markit’s PMI Shows US Manufacturers Gaining Momentum. Reuters (4/1, Campos) reports that the US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) put out by the financial data firm Markit rose from 55.1 in February, to 55.7 last month, the highest the index has been since October. Tim Moore, a senior economist at Markit stated the increase shows that US manufacturing is gaining momentum after starting off the year slow.
Commentary: Action Must Be Taken To Prevent Future Port Disasters. In a commentary piece for CNBC (4/2), NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, US Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, and National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew R. Shay write that although a resolution was reached in the West Coast port labor dispute before a full-scale shutdown took place, the effects of the incident continue to be felt as evidenced by the “backlog of ships still waiting to be unloaded even now.” The article notes that the second major incident since 2002 will likely force “business as shippers diversified their options” as they did in 2002, seeking alternatives to the West Coast, such as East Coast and Gulf Ports and even ports in Mexico and Canada. The piece argues that the issues faced this past year must be evaluated and a path created “to ensure that our ports — and the United States — always remain ‘open for business’” since US business and millions of jobs “rely on efficient, reliable operation of the ports.”
Yahoo! Finance (4/2) also ran this story.