NEW YORK – The overall economy grew for the thirty-fifth straight time, while the manufacturing sector expanded for the thirty-third time, the Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday.

According to the ISM’s monthly report on business, the ISM index climbed to 54.8 in April from 53.4 in March.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the index would climb to 53.0.

An index reading below 50 signals a slowing economy, while a level above 50 suggests expansion. A reading of 50 shows the sector was unchanged in the month.

“The PMI registered 54.8 percent, an increase of 1.4 percentage points from March’s reading of 53.4 percent, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 33rd consecutive month," said Bradley Holcomb, chair of the Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing business survey committee. “Sixteen of the 18 industries reflected overall growth in April, and the New Orders, Production and Employment Indexes all increased, indicating growth at faster rates than in March. The Prices Index for raw materials remained at 61 percent in April, the same rate as reported in March. Comments from the panel generally indicate stable to strong demand, with some concerns cited over increasing oil prices and European stability.”

The closely watched prices paid index held at 61.0. The employment index was at 57.3, up from 56.1 the prior month.

The production index increased to 61.0 from 58.3, the new orders index grew to 58.2 from 54.5; the supplier deliveries index gained to 49.2 from 48.0; the export orders index increased to 59.0 from 54.0; and the imports index remained 53.5.

The inventories index slid to 48.5 from 50.0; the customers’ inventories index rose to 45.5 from 44.5; and backlog of orders fell to 49.5 from 52.5.

Respondents’ comments included:

“We expect our production levels to remain at the current level or increase over the next quarter.” (Chemical Products)

“In general, demand remains strong for products, and we [are experiencing] more supply disruptions now than four to five months ago.” (Machinery)

“The economy was off to a good start through the first quarter, but the European issues keep coming up as well as the recent disappointing jobs report. It appears that some of the early gains may be temporary.” (Fabricated Metal Products)

“Warm weather in Midwest appears to have helped soft drink sales.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)

“Positive increase in volume of sales and orders, and slight uptick in inventories, indicate the overall outlook remains robust through summer at least.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)

“Sales are slowing.” (Computer & Electronic Products)

“Business conditions on a national scale have a very positive outlook for the commercial metals we provide. At this point, we have outperformed each quarter’s goal and anticipate a strong finish.” (Primary Metals)

“Strong demand [compared to] previous year.” (Plastics & Rubber Products)

“Business indicators suggest a stronger stability in overall environment. Production and orders are stable.” (Transportation Equipment)

“Business conditions continue to improve.” (Furniture & Related Products)


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