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The manufacturing economy remained strong in December, but growth slowed compared to November, according to the latest Report on Business from the Institute for Supply Management.
ISM said economic manufacturing activity expanded in December and that the overall economy grew for the 116th straight month. The group’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) registered 54.1 percent, down 5.2 percentage points from the November reading of 59.3 percent, but still above the 50-point mark indicating expansion in sector.
“Comments from the [ISM] panel reflect continued expanding business strength, but at much lower levels,” Timothy R. Fiore, chairperson of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee said in a statement announcing the monthly survey. He added that ISM’s Customers’ Inventories Index remains too low — a positive heading into the first quarter of 2019 — and that the Backlog of Orders declined to a zero-expansion level. “Consumption continued to strengthen, with production and employment still expanding, but at much lower levels compared to prior periods. Inputs—expressed as supplier deliveries, inventories and imports—softened as well, with suppliers improving delivery performance, and inventories and imports declining.”
Fiore said exports continue to expand, but at low levels consistent with November, and that price increases relaxed “to levels not seen since June 2017, when the index registered 53 percent. The manufacturing community continues to expand, but at much lower levels and at a sharp decline from November.”