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Manufacturing Will Grow Only 1% In 2001's Second Half, Says NAPM

By John S. McClenahen Financial bears remain active as manufacturers await the possibility, this month and next, of additional demand-stimulating interest-rate cuts by Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee. Second-half 2001 revenue growth for U.S. manufacturing will be a weak 1%, projects the National Assn. of Purchasing Management (NAPM). Purchasing executives "have lost the bullish outlook that has been part of recent forecasts," confirms Tempe, Ariz.-based NAPM. In a development that should not surprise anyone, dramatically lower capital spending is a major factor for the purchasing manager's change in outlook. They now predict capital expenditures will decrease 8.3% this year, compared with the 1.8% increase for 2001 they expected just six months ago. Only 17% of those responding to NAPM's most recent economic-forecast survey expect manufacturing's capital outlays to rise this year. Meantime, 51%, a narrow majority, foresee them falling, with an average decrease of 32.4%. One-third of the purchasing executives predict 2001 capital expenditures will be comparable to 2000's. Also worth noting: The executives expect manufacturing to continue to reduce their purchased-inventory-to-sales ratios, and they foresee manufacturing employment declining by 1.3%.

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