Manufacturing Sector Grew Again, Supplier Deliveries Slowed in February

Economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector grew for the ninth straight month in February even as difficult weather conditions affected business and disrupted logistics, supply executives said in the Institute for Supply Management’s latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. The broader economy expanded for the 57th straight month.

New orders, employment and inventories grew, while production contracted and supplier deliveries slowed, ISM said in a press release.

“The February PMI registered 53.2 percent, an increase of 1.9 percentage points from January’s reading of 51.3 percent indicating expansion in manufacturing for the ninth consecutive month. The New Orders Index registered 54.5 percent, an increase of 3.3 percentage points from January’s reading of 51.2 percent,” said the report from Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

“The Production Index registered 48.2 percent, a decrease of 6.6 percentage points compared to January’s reading of 54.8 percent. Inventories of raw materials increased by 8.5 percentage points to 52.5 percent. As in January, several comments from the panel mention adverse weather conditions as a factor impacting their businesses in February. Other comments reflect optimism in terms of demand and growth in the near term.”

Fourteen of the 18 manufacturing sectors reported growth in February, according to ISM.

The report cited comments from respondents, including a chemical products executive who described raw materials disruptions from backups at ports and adverse weather. An executive in the petroleum and coal products sector said bad weather was hampering logistics across the country, and an apparel executive said orders were down because of weather.

Suppliers’ delivery performance to manufacturers slowed at a faster rate in February than in January, said ISM.