U.S. Manufacturing Ends 2013 in High Gear

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Manufacturing business conditions continued to improve in December despite some prevailing economic headwinds. Markit’s Flash U.S. Manufacturing PMI edged down to 54.4 from 54.7, signaling expansion but at a slightly slower rate than was recorded in November.

The overall slowdown can largely be attributed to a deceleration in the rate of growth for output (from 57.4 to 57.3) and new orders (from 56.2 to 54.5), arguably the two most important components of the headline index. Stocks of purchases and stocks of finished goods continued to contract, although at a slower rate than in November. The highly watched employment component actually showed accelerated growth, climbing from 52.3 to 53.7.

“Over the fourth quarter as a whole, manufacturing has enjoyed its best performance since the start of the year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, in the report. “Growth of output looks to have accelerated to an annualised rate of approximately 4% or more, and is driving greater job creation. The survey’s Employment Index rose to its highest since March, adding to indications that the manufacturing workforce is growing at a reasonable rate again.”

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