The August US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index conducted by Markit came in at 52.8, down from the 53.3 final July figure. Today's headline number was above the forecast of 52.5. 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 Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit in their latest press release:

“Although still above the 50 ‘no change’ level, the decline in the PMI shows signs of a renewed stuttering of the manufacturing economy during August. The latest reading indicates one of the weakest improvements in the overall health of the sector seen over the past year, and translates into disappointing signals for comparable official data. “The drop in the output index indicates that manufacturing could act as a drag on the economy in the third quarter, with exports dampening order book growth.

“The survey brings more encouraging signs of improved domestic demand, however, with orders for both consumer goods and investment goods such as plant and machinery on the rise, boding well for the wider economy to continue to expand as we move through the second half of 2017.” [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 expanded through most of 2016, but has seen a decline this year. The Markit series has trended more steadily downward from its interim high early in the second half of 2014.