The overall economy grew for the 102nd straight time, the Institute for Supply Management reported Wednesday. Suppliers reported strength in sales.

According to the ISM's monthly report on business, the ISM index decreased to 58.2 in November from 58.7 in October.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted the index would be 58.4.

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 prices paid index slid to 65.5 from 68.5. The employment index dipped to 59.7 from 59.8.

The production index climbed to 63.9 from 61.0, the new orders index gained to 64.0 from 63.4; the supplier deliveries index decreased to 56.5 from 61.4; the export orders index fell to 56.0 from 56.5; and the imports index rose to 54.5 from 54.0.

The inventories index dropped to 47.0 from 48.0; the customers' inventories index rose to 45.5 from 43.5; and backlog of orders remained at 55.0.

Respondents' comments included:

  • “Continuing to see more orders for the next six to 12 months.” (Chemical Products)
  • “Strong sales through third and now fourth quarters. Backlog increasing, and capacity at suppliers tightening.” (Machinery)
  • “Business has leveled out but remains strong heading into the end of the year.” (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • “We are just coming off a record sales year. We expect to continue in 2018 robust activity.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • “We are seeing steady, consistent demand for end of year. We usually see a slowdown, which we haven’t seen yet.” (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • “Overall industry demand remains strong. Continue to have a healthy backlog of orders. Local economy is also strong, with a fairly tight labor market.” (Transportation Equipment)
  • “Business is strong. Employment is tight. Supplier deliveries have lengthened. A few suppliers are still blaming Hurricane Harvey for the lead times.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • “Strong season demand for products and continued requirements for uptime.” (Nonmetallic Mineral Products)
  • “Currently, we have not experienced the typical seasonal slowdown toward the end of Q4. Could be that there is a lot of optimism in the American economy.” (Plastics & Rubber Products)

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