The seasonally adjusted Milwaukee Report on Business climbed to 52.2 in December from 45.3 in November, the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee reported Thursday.

New orders received grew to 51.5 from 50.9, production soared to 52.2 from 35.5, employment increased to 55.2 from 47.9, supplier deliveries gained to 54.2 from 50.9, and backlog of orders increased to 42.1 from 39.6.

Inventory levels rose to 47.6 from 42.3, customers' inventories gained to 44.7 from 41.7, prices fell to 57.1 from 63.4, exports increased to 53.9 from 47.4 and imports rose to 53.65 from 47.5.

The blue collar diffusion index decreased to 45.5 from 50.0, while the white collar diffusion index rose to 57.1 from 52.0.

Respondents' comments included:

Long lead times and poor sales forecasts create a customer service issues tied to reaction time to service.
--Customers with poor forecasting capability and short lead-time expectations.
--Our business is cyclical, and down period is runs from November until March, seasonality would cover any decreases.
--Supplier deliveries adversely impacted by port strikes
--General (upward) creep in steel prices and, prices of proteins have increased (beef, pork & chicken)

Regarding the six-month outlook:

--Orders for 2ndQuarter look better
--Economic uncertainty is effecting municipal sales
--December has never been as strong a month as it has been this year. We expect the beginning of the New Year to be strong as well.

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