The March ISM manufacturing survey was a solid 59.6, above expectations of 57, up from 56.5 in Feb and is at the highest level since July ’04. The change in components from Feb though was mixed but still good. New Orders rose 2 pts to 61.5 but Order Backlogs fell 3 pts to 58. Export Orders rose 5 pts to 61.5, the highest since ’89 and manufacturing inventories rose 8 pts to 55.3, the first trip above 50 since Apr ’06 and it’s at the highest level since ’84. Customer Inventories rose 2 pts but remain lean at 39. The employment component though fell 1 pt to 55.1 and Prices Paid spiked 8 pts to the most since Aug ’08 at 75. 17 of the 18 industries surveyed reported growth. Bottom line, manufacturing has been the source of improvement all thru the US recovery over the past year and as seen with the overseas data earlier today, the improvement is global. The ISM measures the direction of change, not the degree, but the recovery in this sector is clear, for now.
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