Manufacturing activity in January reached its highest level since May 2004 and posted its 18th consecutive year-to-year increase, the Institute of Supply Management reported.
The ISM’s widely followed monthly manufacturing index registered 60.8 in January, up from 58.5 in December. It was the sixth straight month-to-month increase.
An index reading above 50 indicates expansion. The index has been above that level since August 2009.
Sharper increases were posted in the ISM’s indexes for new orders, at 67.8 from 62 in January; order backlogs, 58 from 47; manufacturing exports, 62 from 54.5; imports, 55 from 50.5; and customer inventories, 45.5 from 40.
An inventories index reading above 42.7 generally corresponds with expansion in the government’s figures on overall manufacturing inventories.
The ISM manufacturing employment index rose 2.8 points, from 58.9 to 61.7, a sign that increased production is starting to generate new jobs. It was the 16th consecutive month showing a year-to-year increase.
“New orders and production continue to be strong, and employment rose above 60 percent for the first time since May 2004,” said Norbert J. Ore, chair of the ISM’s manufacturing business survey committee.
The ISM survey showed growth in 14 of 18 manufacturing industries the survey tracks. The only exceptions were textile mills, printing, plastics and rubber products and nonmetallic mineral products.
The ISM’s price index jumped to 81.5 from 72.5 in January, a sign that commodity prices are adding to manufacturers’ costs. “Global demand is driving commodity prices higher, particularly for energy, metals and chemicals,” Ore said.
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