Markit Manufacturing PMI: March Loses Some Momentum

The March US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index conducted by Markit came in at 53.3, down from the 54.2 February figure. Today's headline number was slightly below the consensus of 53.5. Markit's Manufacturing PMI is a diffusion index: A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector; below 50 indicates contraction.

Here is the opening from the latest press release:

At 53.3 in March, down from 54.2 in February, the seasonally adjusted Markit final US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) eased further from the 22-month peak recorded at the start of 2017 (55.0). The latest reading was the lowest since September 2016.

March data pointed to a further moderation in output growth from the peak seen at the start of 2017. The latest rise in production was the slowest for six months, but still much stronger than the soft patch seen in mid-2016. Survey respondents noted that the improving domestic economic backdrop and rising spending from energy sector clients had helped to boost workloads in March. [Press Release]

Here is a snapshot of the series since mid-2012.

Markit Manufacturing PMI

Here is an overlay with the equivalent PMI survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management (see our full article on this series here, note that ).

Markit and ISM Manufacturing PMI

The next chart uses a three-month moving average of the two rather volatile series to facilitate our understanding of the current trend.

Markit and ISM Manufacturing PMI

The two moving-average series began diverging in early 2015. The ISM index dipped into contraction in the third quarter of 2015 but then reversed directions in 2016 to its current level of modest expansion. The Markit series has trended more steady downward from its interim high early in the second half of 2014. We have seen a slight decline at the end of 2016 into 2017.