While the overall economy registered its 61st consecutive month of growth in November 2006, manufacturing ended its 41-month run by declining in the same period, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The ISM’s Manufacturing Report on Business registered 49.5% in November (scores above 50% indicate growth). The last time the index registered below 50% was in April 2003 when it hit 46.5%.
New export orders continued to grow in November, but at a slower pace than October. Imports were also growing at a slower pace.
ISM member firms reported prices were on the rise, particularly for copper products, corn, natural gas, nickel and zinc.
On a rolling 12-month average, the ISM’s manufacturing index registered 54.2%. Its high point in the period was 57.3% in April 2006 and its low point was in November (49.5%). Commenting on the relationship between the index and the U.S. economy, Norbert Ore, ISM chair, said the average for the 11 months of 2006 (54.1%) corresponds to a 4.1% increase in the real gross domestic product.