manufacturing activity expanded in January, with primary metal
manufacturers and metal fabricators reporting growth, according
to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).
The purchasing managers index
(PMI) for January rose 2.9 percentage points to 53.1, boosted
by new order, inventory and employment gains.
"Manufacturing is starting the
year on a positive note," ISM manufacturing business survey
committee chairman Bradley J. Holcomb said in a statement.
New orders rose 3.6 percentage
points, production by 1 point and employment by 2.1 points vs.
December, while manufacturers inventories jumped 8 points
and customers inventories rose 1.5 points. Exports and
imports both declined, as did order backlogs, but all were
Hot-rolled carbon steel prices
dipped month on month, but cold-rolled steel, stainless steel,
aluminum and copper tags rose, survey respondents said. Metal
producers said they paid lower prices while fabricators paid
Metal producers and fabricators
reported a rise in new orders, order backlogs and output in
January. But while fabricators were hiring, mills and
smelters employment was flat.
inventories rose but fabricators reduced inventories last
month. Both producers and fabricators deemed their
customers inventories were too low. Producers
exports fell but fabricators reported growth in new export
orders in January.
Respondents to the ISM Chicago
chapter survey provided negative views on the months
performance. This year "is starting out a tad slower than
December 2012. We will be busy, but not to the extent that we
were in (the) fourth quarter," one manufacturing purchasing
"Business is slow out of the
gate for 2013," a second executive said.
But the macro take was buoyant.
"The January report offered rays of light and hope after months
of stagnation. The reading firmed (to) its best score since
April 2012," Michael Montgomery, U.S. economist at Lexington,
Mass.-based consultancy IHS Global Insight Inc., said. "It has
been a long dry spell, with the (index) within two points of
neutrality since last spring. That lethargy may be ending,
(leading to) hope that the manufacturing sector will rouse from
its slumber in 2013."