This morning's release of the ISM Manufacturing survey for March was above fifty and indicative of growth, but given expectations there was not much to like about the report. While economists were forecasting a reading of 54.0 the actual reading came in at 51.3. In the table below, we summarize the current reading of the headline index and each of its ten sub-components relative to last month and last year. As shown, just three of the components (customer inventories, employment, and prices paid) in this month's report increased this month. Compared to a year ago, only four components are higher now than they were then.
Interestingly, the highest reading of any subcomponent this month came from export orders (56.0). Given the stronger dollar, one would think that if any area of manufacturing was going to show weakness it would be exports.
The chart below shows the ISM headline index going back to 1990, and below that we show charts of each of the ten components.