These nine factory sectors are hot

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Updated May 3, 2013

The Institute for Supply Management’s April survey shows that economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded last month for the fifth consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 47th consecutive month.

Transportation equipment was stacked among the top freight categories in the ISM’s most recent report.Transportation equipment was stacked among the top freight categories in the ISM’s most recent report.

So with things still rocking along, what are the best freight categories? Nine of those tracked by ISM fell in two key lists for April: overall growth, as well as growth in new orders. They are Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Transportation Equipment; Fabricated Metal Products; Paper Products; Machinery; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Computer & Electronic Products.

Comments from ISM’s panel of key industry respondents “indicate a range of strong/steady growth, to flat/declining volumes, depending upon the particular industry,” says Bradley Holcomb, chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

As for ISM’s key number, the Purchasing Managers Index, Holcomb said, “The PMI registered 50.7 percent, a decrease of 0.6 percentage point from March’s reading of 51.3 percent, indicating expansion in manufacturing for the fifth consecutive month, but at the lowest rate of the year.”

Holcomb also said the PMI for the year’s first four months indicates modest GDP growth: “The past relationship between the PMI and the overall economy indicates that the average PMI for January through April (52.3 percent) corresponds to a 3.2 percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis. In addition, if the PMI for April (50.7 percent) is annualized, it corresponds to a 2.7 percent increase in real GDP annually.”

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