Manufacturing activity advanced with the ISM index reaching 54.9 and its strongest pace of expansion since December. The advance of 1.2 index points was softened by a 2.5-point decline in the prices paid measure, which eased to 56.5 and again the least since December. Production, new orders and inventory levels were largely unchanged, yet the employment index fared a healthy 3.6-point jump to 54.7 as companies indicated the need to expand hiring.
The most notable feature of the report was the surge in trade data, with both export and import orders rising at a decent pace. Indeed the increase to 58.0 for the import reading matched the August 2013 peak, which was also the healthiest level since April 2010. Overall the headline data is encouraging and shows the willingness of companies to boost the labor input to meet firmer demand.
However, in order for the economy to grow, economists will demand higher readings across new orders and production components.
Export and import activity jumps ; imports match multi-year high.