Jan 2, 2020

Midwestern manufacturing improved in December but is still contracting

Data: ISM Chicago; Chart: Axios Visuals

The manufacturing industry in the Midwest continued to contract in December, but did exceed expectations and deliver the best reading in four months.

Why it matters: The Chicago PMI, which tracks manufacturing companies based in the Chicago region, continues to rebound from October's abysmal report that showed the weakest number in four years and the second lowest in a decade.

But, but, but: The October survey's historically low number was impacted by the nationwide strike at General Motors undertaken by the UAW. That was a major factor in the surge of jobs seen in November's nonfarm payrolls report as striking workers returned to their jobs.

  • The fact that purchasing managers' indexes for the manufacturing industry did not see a similar boost in either November or December suggests the sector is in real trouble.

Plus, December marks the fourth month in a row the metric has been below 50, in contraction, and the sixth time in seven months.

  • Business sentiment fell to 46.2 in the fourth quarter, marking the lowest quarterly reading since Q2 2009.

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U.S. manufacturing activity hits worst level since 2009

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Institute of Supply Management's index of manufacturing activity released Friday hit its lowest level since the end of the Great Recession in December.

Why it matters: It shows worsening conditions for the U.S. manufacturing sector, which has been in contraction for five straight months, and reignites concerns about the trade war's impact on the economy. Stocks, already in the red after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general, fell near the lowest levels of the day following the release of the data.

Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020

Why U.S. manufacturing and services are moving further apart

Data: Institute for Supply Management; Chart: Axios Visuals

While U.S. manufacturing has fallen into its deepest hole in a decade, the all-important services sector keeps chugging along.

What's happening: The Institute for Supply Management's gauge of the U.S. services sector yesterday produced a reading solidly in expansionary territory and above expectations. That was a far cry from the company's manufacturing index, which last week hit its weakest level since June 2009.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Manufacturing should bounce back in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last year was one to forget for the world's manufacturers, as industry metrics declined to some of the lowest levels in years.

The state of play: Investors and industry insiders see the sector mounting a comeback in 2020 as the trade war and tariffs are expected to recede, global demand is expected to increase and companies begin to reroute their supply chains.

Go deeperArrowJan 15, 2020