Manufacturing in U.S. expands at faster rate than forecast

European Manufacturing

European manufacturing expanded more than in February than previously estimated as a gauge of French factories rose to a five-month high. The index for the euro region unexpectedly rose to 53.2, compared with a prior reading of 53. The gauge was 54 in January, Markit Economics said today.

In the U.S., recent regional reports on the industry have been mixed. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s factory gauge dropped to minus 6.3 last month, the weakest reading in a year. from 9.4 in January. Business activity in the Chicago area accelerated unexpectedly, figures from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. showed.

Boise Cascade Holdings LLC is among companies that have indicated a slowdown tied to winter weather. Below-average temperatures dominated east of the Rocky Mountains, most notably in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Numerous winter storms” affected the central and eastern regions of the U.S., the agency said.

‘Disruption Days’

“We have had more disruption days in both manufacturing, in areas like Louisiana and the Southeast, and more disruption days in the distribution business than any time I can remember,” Thomas Carlile, Boise Cascade’s chief executive officer, said on a Feb. 21 earnings call. At the same time, the 2014 outlook for plywood and lumber sales is improving, he said.

“When I’ve got the production manager in Alexandria, Louisiana, sending me photos of five inches of snow outside of his flagpole, that’s probably not a normal situation,” Carlile said. “We’re actually reasonably pleased with the tone considering the weather we’ve seen.”

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