Manufacturing Watch: Index Reflects Slump in Activity


By Donald Applegarth

We’ve seen a trend recently indicating a slowdown in manufacturing activity. In a recent report, The Private Bank reported that an index of U.S. manufacturing activity slumped to a three-month low this month with respondents citing soft international markets as the primary culprit. Markit Economics’ preliminary index of U.S. manufacturing decreased to a three-month low of 54.2 in April from a prior reading of 55.7. New orders declined, and a gauge of factory production dropped to a four-month low. “Key to the slowdown was a weakening of export orders, in turn a symptom of the loss of competitiveness arising from the dollar’s strength,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson. “However, while exporters are suffering, domestic demand looks to have remained robust, helping to sustain a reasonably strong production trend.”

A three-month trend doesn’t mean too much all unto itself, but ongoing trends bear review and analysis. We’ll continue to monitor U.S. Manufacturing activity, as well as the activity in our regional markets.

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