Manufacturing in U.S. shrinks at fastest pace in four years

Productivity Gain

Rockwell Automation Inc., a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based maker of factory automation software, is benefiting as businesses strive to improve productivity and reduce costs.

Among regions, “the U.S. and Canada are stable and we continue to see investments across most industries,” Chief Executive Officer Keith Nosbusch said during a May 31 conference presentation. “Automotive looks solid for the next several quarters” and capital spending in consumer-related industries is “stable,” he said.

Regional manufacturing reports were mixed for May. The MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer jumped to the highest level since March 2012, with orders, factory employment and production accelerating from April. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s so-called Empire State measure and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s index showed manufacturing unexpectedly shrank.

Gross domestic product rose at a 2.4% annualized rate in the first three months of 2013, figures showed last week. While inventory accumulation was slower than initially estimated, providing less of a boost to the economy, it sets the stage for growth this quarter as higher sales may prompt more stockpiling.

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