Widespread snowstorms in the U.S. helped limit factory operations last month. The Composite Index of Manufacturing Sector Activity from the Institute for Supply Management dropped sharply to 51.3 during January from a revised 56.5 in December, initially reported as 57.0. Earlier figures were revised due to new seasonal factors. The latest reading was well below expectations for a slip to 56.0 as measured by the Action Economics Survey.
A lower reading for new orders provided the greatest drag on last month’s factory sector activity as it fell to 51.2 from 64.4. In addition, the production component fell to 54.8 from 61.7 and employment dropped to 52.3 from 55.8. Inventories were drawn down at a faster rate as indicated by the lower inventory series. It fell to 44.0, the lowest level since December 2012. Finally, the supplier delivery series moved up to 54.3 indicating the slowest product delivery speeds since June 2011.
New export orders index fell to 54.5, the lowest reading since September while the order backlog reading dropped to 48.0, its lowest level since August. Imports declined to 53.5, the lowest level in twelve months.
The prices paid index series indicated further improvement in pricing power with a rise to 60.5, the highest level since February of last year. Twenty eight percent of firms raised prices while seven percent lowered them. (Haver Analytics, chart from CalculatedRisk)