activity expanded in December, rebounding from a dip the
previous month, as prices, order backlogs and employment rose,
according to the latest survey by the Institute for Supply
The December purchasing
managers index (PMI) rose to 50.7indicating an
overall expansion of the U.S. manufacturing economyfrom
49.5 in November, the lowest level since July 2009.
The primary metals industry
reported growth in activity last month, while metal fabricators
saw a contraction.
"The election is over;
unemployment is dropping; new car sales are increasing;
consumer confidence is increasing, as are home-sale prices,"
said one fabricator responding to the survey. "We seem to be
turning the corner."
Comments from ISMs Chicago
chapter members were mixed. One supply executive said his
company had "more work than we have people to do it" and the
"backlog into 2013 is looking strong," but another said that a
weak order intake in December had forced layoffs.
The surveys employment
index rose 4.3 points to 52.7 last month, although employment
at primary metal producers was flat and metal fabricators
reported a decrease in employment.
The prices index rose 3 points
to 55.5 in December, with survey respondents saying aluminum
pricing rose while most steel product prices fell, except for
The order backlog index jumped
to 48.5 last month from 41 in November. Although metal
producers saw backlogs rise, fabricators saw their order
The new orders index remained
flat, although primary metal producers said their new orders
rose, and both producers and fabricators said their export
Metal producers and fabricators
reduced their inventories last month; fabricators reported that
their customers inventories were too high, while
producers said their customers inventories were too