ISM Manufacturing Index Disappoints Expectations [Dow Jones Industrial Average(INDEXDJX:.DJI)]

dataDoug Short: Today the Institute for Supply Management published its May Manufacturing Report. The latest headline PMI at 53.2 came in below last month’s 54.9 percent and below the Investing.com forecast of 55.5. The latest data comes as a disappointment to those eager for acceleration after the winter slump.

Here is the key analysis from the report:

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in May for the 12th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 60th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

“The May PMI® registered 53.2 percent, a decrease of 1.7 percentage points from April’s reading of 54.9 percent, indicating expansion in manufacturing for the 12th consecutive month. The New Orders Index registered 53.3 percent, a decrease of 1.8 percentage points from the 55.1 percent reading in April, indicating growth in new orders for the 12th consecutive month. The Production Index registered 55.2 percent, 0.5 percentage point below the April reading of 55.7 percent. Employment grew for the 11th consecutive month, registering 51.9 percent, a decrease of 2.8 percentage points below April’s reading of 54.7 percent. Comments from the panel reflect generally steady growth, but note some areas of concern regarding raw materials pricing and supply tightness and shortages.”

Here is the table of PMI components.

I’m reluctant to put too much focus on this index for various reasons, but they are essentially captured in Briefing.com’s Big Picture comment on this economic indicator.

This [the ISM Manufacturing Index] is a highly overrated index. It is merely a survey of purchasing managers. It is a diffusion index, which means that it reflects the number of people saying conditions are better compared to the number saying conditions are worse. It does not weight for size of the firm, or for the degree of better/worse. It can therefore underestimate conditions if there is a great deal of strength in a few firms. The data have thus not been either a good forecasting tool or a good read on current conditions during this business cycle. It must be recognized that the index is not hard data of any kind, but simply a survey that provides broad indications of trends.

The chart below shows the Manufacturing Composite series, which stretches back to 1948.

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