ISM Manufacturing Tumbles To 13-Month Lows, Employment Slumps, Construction Spending Plunges

Despite a collapse in US macro data in February, Markit somehow managed to conjure a better than expected 55.1 print for US Manufacturing PMI. Under the covers employment creation was the slowest since July and inflationary pressures loom as selling prices rose notably. ISM Manufacturing printed 52.9 - a small miss vs 53.0 expectations - down for the 4th month in a row to 13-month lows, with employment at its weakest since June 2013. Construction spending's modest rebound in (seemingly un-weather-affected) December (after dropping in November) has been destroyed with a 1.1% drop in January (against expectations of 0.3% rise) for the biggest drop in 8 months.

Spot The Odd One Out - one of these is a soft survey... the other summarizes US macro hard data into one variable...


Doesn't exactly look like a 'recovery' in manufacturing based on the jobs created...


ISM Manufacturing fell and missed for 4th month in a row - but only modestly...


Here is the breakdown of New Orders seasonal adjusted vs unadjusted.

Respondents in ISM

  • "West Coast port issue has been a problem for exporting." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • "Business is steady to slightly up." (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • "The major concern for us across the board is the ongoing situation with the West Coast ports. Air freight and overtime have been required to cover for products waiting to be offloaded at the ports." (Transportation Equipment)
  • "Lower oil and natural gas prices continue to put pressure on our revenues. We continue to pursue capital budget cuts and rate reduction efforts with our suppliers." (Petroleum & Coal Products)
  • "The dock delay on the West Coast is seriously impacting the supply chain logistics." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Kind of a mixed bag right now. Some product demand up, some down, basically flat." (Chemical Products)
  • "West Coast port congestion and work slowdowns by the union is hurting our imports and exports, getting worse by the week." (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • "Customer behavior is being negatively impacted by ongoing resin price decreases. Order placement is being delayed to receive lower finished good pricing." (Plastics & Rubber Products)
  • "Business in general is staying its course. Concerns abound over strike possibilities by West Coast longshoremen." (Machinery)
  • "Improving and 2015 off to a good start." (Furniture & Related Products)

Given the historical relationship between earnings expectations and ISM, we leave it to @Not_Jim_Cramer to express his opinion: "If ISM does not print quite a bit lower this month - it's rigged"

You decide.

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And finally, construction spending was a disaster - falling 1.1% against expectations of a 0.3% rise...


Prepare for the GDP downgrades...

Charts: Bloomberg, @Not_Jim_Cramer