U.S. manufacturers report strong start to 2018
Manufacturing production continued to increase at a much faster pace than service sector activity.
At 53.8 in January, down from 54.1 in December, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index signalled the least marked rate of business activity expansion since May 2017.
Nonetheless, the headline index has now posted above the 50.0 no-change threshold for 23 consecutive months.
Slower private sector output growth reflected the weakest rise in services activity for nine months.
In contrast, manufacturers experienced one of the strongest rates of production growth since the first quarter of 2015, supported by improving domestic sales and sustained inventory building in January.
The latest survey revealed a robust and accelerated upturn in new order books across the private sector economy.
Survey respondents attributed greater sales to improved business and consumer confidence.
Manufacturers signalled the second-fastest expansion of incoming new work since March 2015.
Payroll numbers continued to increase at the start of 2018.
The latest upturn marked eight years of sustained job creation across the private sector economy.
Input price inflation meanwhile intensified in January, with the latest rise in cost burdens the fastest since September 2017.
A number of firms cited higher fuel, energy and oilrelated costs during the latest survey period.
Private sector companies indicated a rebound in business confidence from the 15-month low seen during December.
Greater business optimism was mainly linked to rising new order volumes and hopes of a sustained improvement in domestic economic conditions. ■