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Manufacturing Continues Growth

The U.S. manufacturing sector continued to grow during November, if at a somewhat slower pace, and the nation's purchasing managers, who control the purse strings of corporate America, say they're largely satisfied with the way business is going.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its November barometer of manufacturing activity dipped slightly for a second straight month, to a level of 58.1 from 59.1 in October, giving up some of a big jump of almost 6 percent in September.

But even though slacking off slightly during the past two months, the reading is still up 4.5 percent since August, and up more than 6 percent since a 13-month low of 51.4 in May.

The monthly index “showed significant strength in manufacturing activity,” with gains recorded in most key metrics,” said Norbert Ore, chairman of the ISM's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

“While energy costs and supply interruptions remain a concern, purchasers are satisfied in general with current business conditions.”

In particularly good news, the prices that manufacturers pay for raw materials and supplies dropped sharply during November after climbing sharply higher in recent months. The Prices Index dropped 10 percent to a reading of 74 from a high of 84 touched in October. But even with the drop, the Prices Index is still up more than 11 points since a reading of 62.5 in May.

In more good news for the sector, employment grew 1.6 percent during November for a fifth straight month, climbing to a level of 56.6 from 55 in October. Export orders grew during the month, rising 4.4 percent, and imports subsided 4.1 percent.

November snapshot
Manufacturing benchmarks
Month-over-month percentage-point change

Source: Institute for Supply Management
Purchasing Managers' Index -1.0%
New Orders -1.9
Production -1.4
Employment 1.6
Inventories 1.2
Customers' Inventories 2.5
Cost of Supplies -10.0
Order Backlogs -2.5
Export Orders 4.4
Imports -4.1


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