Orders grow, deliveries slow in February

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in February for the ninth consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 28th consecutive month, according to supply executives conducted by the Institute for Supply Management.

The latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business was issued Norbert J. Ore, chairman of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee and group director of strategic sourcing and procurement, Georgia-Pacific Corporation.

"This month, many respondents are particularly encouraged by the increased breadth of the recovery in manufacturing,” Ore said. “All 20 manufacturing industries reported growth. New orders and production both decelerated this month, but they are still at very positive levels."

ISM's Backlog of Orders Index indicates that order backlogs increased in February, and the Employment Index grew for the fourth consecutive month. ISM's Prices Index indicates that manufacturers once again experienced higher prices in their purchases, and at the highest rate since February 1995. The New Export Orders and Import Indexes continue to grow, with Imports accelerating during the month.

Comments from purchasing and supply managers have become increasingly optimistic as more and more industries indicate improvement. The general tone of the panel has improved significantly in these first two months of 2004. Their major concerns are steel availability and energy prices.

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