Factories humming; inventories start growing

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Today’s report on manufacturing shows it expanded in March for the eighth consecutive month, says the Institute for Supply Management, which does a monthly survey of supply executives.

The good news mirrors what many in the trucking industry have said in recent weeks about freight demand – and driver demand with it – picking up. ISM also says the overall economy grew for the 11th consecutive month.

“The rate of growth as indicated by the PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) is the fastest since July 2004,” says ISM’s Norbert J. Ore. Growth was also logged for new orders, employment and inventories.

“The Inventories Index provided a surprise as it indicated growth for the first time following 46 months of liquidation — perhaps signaling manufacturers’ willingness to increase inventories based on expected levels of activity,” Ore says.

The only manufacturing sector not growing in March was Plastics & Rubber Products. The other 17, listed in order of growth, were: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Textile Mills; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Transportation Equipment; Machinery; Computer & Electronic Products; Paper Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Furniture & Related Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Wood Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Chemical Products; and Primary Metals.