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Manufacturing Activity Accelerated Last Month

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Reuters (3/4, Mutikani) reports that the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index rose to 53.2 in February from 51.3 in January, which was its weakest reading since May 2013. A reading above 50.0 indicates that the sector is expanding. Reuters says that the strong report should encourage the Fed to continue tapering its stimulus program as expected.

Bloomberg News (3/4, Woellert) reports that the index shows that the economy is “making headway in emerging from the harsh winter weather that has slowed growth in early 2014.” Bloomberg adds that the increase “would have been stronger if not for a slump in production caused by a shortage of parts, a sign orders will improve in coming months to replenish stockpiles.”

The Wall Street Journal (3/4, Madigan, Subscription Publication) reports that economists it surveyed expected the index to come in at 52.5.

The Los Angeles (CA) Times (3/4, Puzzanghera), USA Today (3/3, Davidson), the AP (3/4, Rugaber), IndustryWeek (3/4), and other media sources also cover the story.

Markit February Manufacturing Index Rises To 57.1. Reuters (3/4) reports the Markit Economics final index of U.S. manufacturing rose last month to 57.1 from 53.7 in January. The new orders component rose to 59.6 in February from 53.9 the previous month. Output climbed to 57.8 in February from 53.5 a month earlier.  Bloomberg News (3/3) and MarketWatch (3/3) also cover the story.

Canada Manufacturing Sector Improves In February.

Canada’s Financial Post (3/3) reports the RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index rose to 52.9 in February from 51.7 the previous month.

Reuters (3/4) reports the employment component of the index rose to 50.4 last month. The gauge of new orders fell to 52.6 from 52.9 in January.

Georgia Manufacturing Activity Rose In February.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (3/4, Seward) reports that, according to a monthly report by Kennesaw State University’s Econometric Center, manufacturing activity in Georgia rose in February. The state’s Purchasing Managers Index rose to 56.7 in February, up from 50.0 the previous month. Fifty percent of purchasing managers surveyed believe “production for the next three to six months” will increase versus 57 percent a month earlier.

Consumer Spending Posts Solid Gain For January.

The Wall Street Journal (3/4, Portlock, Subscription Publication) reports that consumer spending rose 0.4% in January, driven by a 0.9% increase in spending on services, according to data released Monday by the Department of Commerce. That more than offset a drop in spending on goods. However, December’s originally reported increase of 0.4% was revised sharply downward to a 0.1% gain. However, several experts cited by the Journal indicate that the harsh weather that enveloped much of the nation in January makes drawing solid conclusions from this and other data difficult.

Gas Prices Rise Amid Tensions In Ukraine.

The AP (3/4) reports that Russia’s “stranglehold” on the Crimean Peninsula caused global markets to fall sharply and oil prices to rise on the prospect of “violent upheaval in the heart of Europe.” President Obama said that the US is considering economic and diplomatic sanctions to isolate Russia in the event that it continues military action in the Ukraine.

Reuters (3/4, Polityuk, Zhadannikov) notes that Ukraine has increased gas imports from Russia amid warnings that Russia’s Gazprom may not continue a discount on prices due to outstanding gas debt.

The Wall Street Journal (3/4, Denning, Subscription Publication) reports that Ukraine’s crisis poses a real threat to global oil demand, noting that Brent crude jumped 2% while Russian stocks dropped 12% on Monday, while the International Business Times (3/4, Clark) adds that energy companies exposed to tensions in Ukraine and Russia have also seen shares fall as tensions escalate between Ukraine and Russia.  Bloomberg News (3/4, Swint) also covers the story.

Analysts: Cold Weather Not Responsible For Housing Slowdown.

Diana Olick writes in the CNBC (3/4) “Realty Check” blog that while some analysts are attributing recent discouraging housing data to an extremely cold and snowy winter, others argue the weather is not to blame for the sector’s slowdown. In fact, analysts at Goldman Sachs say applying seasonal adjustments could actually distort housing data.

From SME Daily Executive Briefing 3.4.2014


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