U.S. Manufacturing Expands In March

Customers' inventories finally fell below 50% mark.

The manufacturing sector continued to grow in March registering a 50.9% on the Institute for Supply Management's PMI. But that is a decrease from February's 52.3%

"Manufacturing improved slightly in March as the PMI reflected growth for the second consecutive month. The New Orders and Production Indexes advanced while the Employment and Inventories Indexes declined. A positive for March is the Customers' Inventories Index (falling below 50% after five consecutive months above the breakeven line), which is a possible indication that manufacturers' inventories are nearing satisfactory levels. On the negative side, prices appear to be surging for certain commodities in the face of slower growth," explained Norbert J. Ore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting.

"The March 2007 ISM report shows continuation of the sluggish pace of manufacturing growth that started in the fourth quarter of 2006," said Thomas J. Duesterberg, CEOr of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "Clearly, the recession in housing and autos, along with the sub-par performance of capital investment, is behind the slowdown. The Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI anticipates a pick-up in manufacturing activity in the second half of 2007."

The 10 industries reporting growth in March -- listed in order -- are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Wood Products; Transportation Equipment; Plastics & Rubber Products; Chemical Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products and Textile Mills.

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