The U.S. manufacturing sector showed signs of stabilizing in October.
The purchasing manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management came in at 48.3 last month, the third straight month of contraction for the index. But that was an improvement of the 47.8 score for the prior month, indicating that conditions may have hit a trough rather than continuing to decline.
New orders improved by almost 2 points to at 49.1, although they remain below the 50 breakeven score. New export orders, which had led the manufacturing sector’s decline, improved markedly, up more than 9 points to 50.4.
The ISM’s guages for employment and production both remain in contraction. Production actually worsened for the month while the downward pressure on employment eased back.
Since the survey was taken while the GM strike was depressing the overall manufacturing sector, the improvements for the month are even more remarkable and may point toward renewed expansion in the coming months.