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Chicago PMI retreats in March

Written by Brett Linton

The Chicago Business Barometer slipped to a 10-month low in March, according to Market News International (MNI) and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The March Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) reading eased 2.6 points to 41.4, marking the fourth consecutive month it has been in contracting territory.

Their latest report credits this downward move to a reduction in order backlogs, new orders, production, and supplier deliveries, while an increase in employment slightly dampened the decline.

Order backlogs saw double-digit declines from February to March, now at the third-lowest reading recorded in the past 15 years. The MNI report notes that more than 50% of those surveyed saw smaller backlogs in March.

New orders fell to a six-month low, with numerous survey respondents experiencing a slow period. Supplier deliveries and production both eased to multi-month lows.

Employment saw a rebound in March following the previous month’s low, now in line with January levels. The release credits this increase to “the greatest proportion of respondents reporting higher employment and the lowest proportion reporting lower employment since November 2023.”

Inventories slipped to a two-month low, citing restocking delays due to limited raw material availability.

Respondents were asked two special questions this month:

  • The first asked if they were considering automation/artificial intelligence/digital technology improvements this year. There was an even yes/no split between respondents.
  • The second asked when they were planning to make their next major capital investment for growth. The majority (39%) were unsure, while 19% said the second half of this year, 12% said next year, and 12% said within the next two years.

This post appeared first on Steel Market Update.

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