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Conference Board Leading Economic Index at Historical High in February

Manufacturing Expands for 20th Consecutive Month in March

Manufacturing expanded in March for the 20th consecutive month, according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. The overall economy grew for the 22nd consecutive month.

Manufacturing continued its rapid growth as the PMI registered 61.2 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point when compared to February's reading of 61.4 percent. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.

New orders and employment declined when compared to February, but remained strong at 63.3 percent and 63 percent, respectively. ISM's production index increased 2.7 percentage points to 69 percent.

"While manufacturers are benefiting from strength in new orders and production, there is significant concern with regard to commodity prices," said Norbert J. Ore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee and author of the report. "Many manufacturers indicate the prices they have to pay for inputs are rising, and there is concern about the impact of higher prices on their margins."

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 15 are reporting growth in March, in the following order: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Transportation Equipment; Fabricated Metal Products; Machinery; Textile Mills; Computer & Electronic Products; Furniture & Related Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Paper Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Chemical Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Printing & Related Support Activities.

The two industries reporting contraction in March are: Wood Products and Primary Metals.

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