According to Markit Surveys, the PMI manufacturing survey for March came in at 55.1, well above the 54.7 that had been predicted by analysts; the February reading, however, was revised downward to 55.0 from 55.2. Monday's headline number was below the Investing.com forecast of 55.7.
A reading over 50.0 points shows economic expansion, while a reading below would signify a contraction. Whereas the latest national accounts cover the fourth quarter (October-December), the latest PMI captures the third month of the first quarter of 2018.
"Demand remains robust, with the new orders index at 60 or above for the 11th straight month, and the customers' inventories index at its lowest level since July 2011", said Timothy R. Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. That said, the rate of job creation eased to a seven-month low.
"The goods producing sector should therefore make a positive contribution to economic growth in the first quarter, as rising demand fueled further improvements in factory production", IHS Markit chief business economist Chris Williamson said. Local manufacturing companies generally passed on these higher cost burdens to clients by raising output prices in March.
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"Overall, I don't expect the manufacturing sector to slow significantly for this year, but it will continue to grow at the slower pace as we have to watch out for the potential headwinds to our manufacturing sector growth coming from [the] potential trade war between the U.S. and China". Where input costs increased, this was linked to higher market prices. Given the current market environment, it would appear that the coming March US Nonfarm Payrolls report (and knock-on effects to Fed funds rate pricing) would not be the catalyst to drive such price action; instead, a further tightening of financial conditions and erosion in risk sentiment would be necessary.
Suppliers' delivery times lengthened marginally, with raw material shortages and shipping delays reportedly behind the deterioration.
A new Commerce Department report on US construction spending showed it increased just 0.1% in February from January's revised level. Panellists indicated that slower increases in output and new orders led to caution around stock holdings.