ISM better than feared but still sluggish

The Aug ISM remained surprisingly above 50 at 50.6. It’s better than expectations of 48.5 and fears of worse but down a touch from 50.9 in July. The level of 50.6 is still the weakest since July ’09. New Orders remained below 50 at 49.6 vs 49.2 in July and Backlogs too at 46 vs 45 in July. Production fell by 3.7 pts to below 50 at 48.6. Employment fell almost 2 pts to 51.8, the lowest since Nov ’09. Importantly, Export Orders fell 3.5 pts to 50.5, the lowest since July ’09. Inventories at the manufacturer level rose 3 pts to the most since Jan and were up 2.5 pts at the customer level but stayed below 50 at 46.5. Prices Paid fell 3.5 pts to the lowest since Nov ’09. Of the 18 industries surveyed, just 10 reported growth. The ISM gave a bottom line, “the overall sentiment is one of concern and caution over the domestic and international economic environment, which is affecting customers’ confidence and willingness to place orders, at least in the short term.” While the number was better than expected, this quote spells out the economic concerns and the ISM does capture all the new market turmoil experienced in August.

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