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Manufacturing Activity Indices at Historic Levels

Manufacturing Activity Indices at Historic Levels

June 24, 2021
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As recent economic data shows, the robust post-COVID recovery has brought about a historic rebound in U.S. manufacturing activity. Pent-up demand and low inventories of capital goods have caused companies to fire up their machines at record levels, and manufacturing supply management professionals have responded with relative delight in recent surveys. Both the IHS Markit and Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Indices have been robust across the board, as new order growth, hiring plans, and the backlog of orders point to better health in the sector. The downside…higher prices, as purchasing managers’ queried in the survey pinpointed high levels of input cost inflation brought about by a broad-based spike in raw materials prices. The latest survey results show the June IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI at a new all-time high of 62.6, which compares to the Bloomberg consensus estimate of 61.5 and May’s reading of 62.1.

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“The demand for goods and the rebound in manufacturing activity have been remarkable as folks seem determined to get on with their lives. We know that U.S. consumers like to spend, and it seems like they are more than willing to make up for lost time.” explained LPL Financial Director of Research Marc Zabicki.

We believe the latest IHS Markit manufacturing readout may foretell a good result for the ISM benchmark’s expected release on July 1. That index series has also been near record levels, although just below its all-time high. The long-term ISM chart paints a fairly good picture of past peaks and troughs and the roller-coaster of activity that can occur in the manufacturing sector. In fact, the recent highs in the two manufacturing indicators we have mentioned have us looking ahead to an eventual deceleration in activity, which could come later this year. This deceleration could be brought about by the ultimate slowing of demand for some of the hottest items of late: automobiles, appliances, and technology devices. This doesn’t mean we are souring on the prospect for economic growth in the U.S….only that peak activity, as we are witnessing now, which is usually followed by an eventual slowdown in demand. We should see some of this become visible via U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth that is expected to advance at a slower pace in late 2021 and early 2022.

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