Bright spots few and far between

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Updated Dec 14, 2009


There’s plenty of bad news from the economy-watchers at the Institute of Supply Management. As the headline for the February roundup of manufacturing stats says: “New Orders, Production, Employment and Inventories Contracting.”


No surprise there. So for what it’s worth, here are a few shiny needles among the haystack:


  • Factory output is still shrinking, but not as fast as in January. “ISM’s Production Index registered 36.3 percent in February, which is an increase of 4.2 percentage points from January’s reading of 32.1 percent,” says ISM. The index needs to average above 50.4 percent to reflect what the Federal Reserve Board considers to be growth.
  • The two industries reporting production growth in February were Petroleum & Coal, and Products; and Printing & Related Support Activities.
  • On the non-manufacturing side, the one industry reporting growth in February was Arts, Entertainment & Recreation. 

As for non-manufacturing in general, it didn’t show the slowing of contraction that manufacturing did. Its index dropped to “41.6 percent in February, 1.3 percentage points lower than the 42.9 percent registered in January, indicating contraction in the non-manufacturing sector for the fifth consecutive month at a slightly faster rate,” says ISM.


— Max Heine