ISM Beats Expectations Modestly As Construction Spending Slides

The ISM Manufacturing Index, which in the aftermath of last week's weak Chicago PMI was whispered to be a miss, came at 53.4, on expectations of 53.0, up from 52.4 in February, once again continuing the narrative of a Schrodinger economic reality. While Production and Employment both rose, New Order declined from 54.9 to 54.5; What is truly suspect is that Prices dropped also from 61.5 to 61.0, putting the validity of this report in question especially following the explosion in the Chicago PMI prices paid. Perhaps HSBC was responsible for that particular report too? In other news, Construction Spending plunged from an unrevised -0.1% (revised to -0.8%) to -1.1% on expectations of a rise to 0.6%, the lowest print since July 2011. All in all, a release pair as expected, affording Bernanke the ability to be easy if need be, although giving stocks enough pump to offset weakness from Europe and Japan, telegraphing that the drop in the market does not need to begin just yet for New QE deliberations.

Breakdown of the ISM:

Survey respondents. Apparently nobody has such a thing as input costs.

  • "Business is robust, driven by a healthy demand for exports and relatively stable raw materials [pricing]." (Chemical Products)
  • "Our customers are reporting a potential 10 percent to 13 percent increase in purchases for 2012. Actual orders continue to be slow to appear, but expectations continue to be high." (Machinery)
  • "Business conditions [are] very strong and so is outlook." (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • "We have been experiencing 6 percent annual growth and expect that to continue in the near term." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • "Business continues to be brisk — if not robust — [this] month and looking forward." (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • "Business remains essentially stable, with some concerns regarding continued slowdown in China." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Business remains strong." (Primary Metals)
  • "Business improved year over year for the first quarter." (Plastics & Rubber Products)
  • "Generally increasing sales/demand [is] driving higher capacity utilization." (Transportation Equipment)
  • "Sales appear to be picking up over last year at this time, but still have a ways to go." (Wood Products)

And commodity pricing:

Commodities Up in Price

Aluminum Products (2); Copper; Crude Oil; Fuel; Gasoline; HDPE; Lumber; Oil; Plastic Components; Plastic Resins (2); Polypropylene (2); Rubber; Rubber Products; Steel* (4); and Whey Protein.

Commodities Down in Price

Natural Gas (8); and Steel*.

Finally, this is how the market reaction looked like courtesy of Nanex