ISM manufacturing Aug 2023
ISM manufacturing
  • Prior report 47.6
  • Prices paid 43.8 vs 48.6 expected. Last month 48.4
  • Employment 51.2 vs 48.3 expected. Last month 48.5
  • New orders 49.2 vs 46.8 prior
  • Inventories 45.8 vs 44.0 prior
  • Production 52.5 vs 50.0 prior

I've been writing for awhile about green shoots in manufacturing and that's increasingly showing up in the data now. There has been an outright recession in manufacturing over the past year but inventories have gotten extremely lean and demand has held up better than feared. There's a very good argument that manufacturing will be a source of strength in the US economy next year.

Comments in the report.

  • “In the evolving supply chain environment, customers are increasingly taking an active role in initiating new projects, looking for cost reduction opportunities and lead-time mitigation, with a growing emphasis on collaboration. Post-pandemic, customers have learned they need partners to navigate rough waters.” [Computer & Electronic Products]
  • “We need to coordinate very closely with suppliers in order to yield a more cost-competitive offer. More back and forth is needed to reach a reasonable total price.” [Chemical Products]
  • “Orders and production remain steady, and we are maintaining a healthy backlog. Continued inflation and wage adjustments continue to drive prices up, although we should get some relief from the markets stabilizing.” [Transportation Equipment]
  • Cost increases are now generally isolated to specific commodities rather than blanket increases due to ‘inflation.’ ” [Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products]
  • “Markets remain soft. Our customers have about-right inventory levels, but they paid more due to pandemic cost increases. Everyone is holding off on increasing inventories, hoping they can buy at lower costs.” [Apparel, Leather & Allied Products]
  • “Overall, things continue to be very steady: Sales and revenue are as expected, and the supply environment has stabilized greatly versus 2021-22. Some things to watch include the Panama Canal (drought), U.S.-China relations, and the impact the UAW (United Auto Workers) strike could have on suppliers of ours who support automotive production. But overall conditions feel stable.” [Miscellaneous Manufacturing]
  • “Cement negotiations have changed, with cement mills no longer offering annual or guaranteed pricing. We now want to contract more as a commodity, leaning toward quarterly, with fluctuating prices yet to be determined.” [Nonmetallic Mineral Products]
  • “A recession feels imminent. Money continues to be pushed into the bank markets, driving inflation rates really high. Most plants are buying less material or reducing consumption in the name of sustainability, as well as running at 80 percent of capacity. Prices of some products may increase for the upcoming winter weather.” [Petroleum & Coal Products]
  • “Business conditions and market demand remain strong. We are projected to be at capacity in the next 12 months.” [Primary Metals]
  • “New business development is coming onboard. However, many forecasts are set for the beginning of 2024. Hiring and retaining quality people is still a struggle.” [Textile Mills]

The bolded comment is an interesting one. The fall in prices paid is really hard to understand given oil prices but there might be something bigger at work.