by Mike ‘Mish’ Shedlock
As expected, the Manufacturing ISM remained in contraction for a fifth straight month. The Econoday Consensus Estimate was 48.5 but a lift in new orders pushed the index up to a nearly break-even reading of 49.5.
Early indications on the February factory sector are all negative but the most closely watched one, ISM’s manufacturing index, perhaps shows the least weakness. The index rose 1.3 points to a 49.5 level that is nearly at 50.0, the breakeven level between positive and negative monthly change. This index hit 50.0 back in September and has since been underwater.
Not underwater, however, are new orders which held unchanged at a respectable enough level of 51.5. This index had been below 50 going into last year. Contraction in backlog orders slowed which is another plus though contraction in new orders for exports deepened slightly to 46.5 for the weakest reading since September. Employment has been very weak in this report but here to there’s improvement, up 2.6 points to 48.5. Production is also a positive in the report, up 2.6 points to 52.8 for the best reading since August last year.