Institute of Supply Management: Manufacturing activity rises slower in March

For the fourth consecutive month, economic activity in the manufacturing sector has expanded, according to the Institute of Supply Management, but this time at a slower pace.

The ISM’s March report indicates the PMI, or purchasing manager's index, decreased 2.9 percentage points from February’s reading, to 51.3, indicating a slower rate of expansion.

Of the nation’s 18 manufacturing industries, 14 reported growth in March, including electrical equipment, appliances and components, and paper products.

The three industries reporting contraction in March were petroleum and coal products, chemical products, and machinery.

The ISM’s New Orders and Production Indexes reflected growth in March compared to February, albeit at slower rates, registering 51.4% and 52.2%, respectively.

Among the comments taken from survey respondents:

  • "While the second half of 2013 looks promising, the first half is a mixed bag." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Things seem slightly better than last year, but still not great." (Printing & Related Support Activities)
  • "Post-election in the U.S., companies within the oil and gas sector are still waiting for signs of some regulatory certainty or stability." (Petroleum & Coal Products)
  • "Sales are low, even adjusted for seasonal variation." (Chemical Products)