Production at highest since January 2016 . . .
The MNI Chicago Business Barometer increased 2.7 points to 54.2 in September from 51.5 in August, recovering most of lost ground experienced in the previous month.
On a trend basis, the MNI Chicago Report paints a slightly better picture than earlier in the year with the Barometer averaging 53.8 in Q3, up from 52.2 in Q2 and the highest quarterly level since Q4 2014.
The latest increase was driven by a sharp gain in Production, which rose 7.3 points to 59.8, the highest since January 2016. New Orders and Order Backlogs, which led the Barometer’s decline last month, were little changed in September, with the latter failing to bounce back above the 50 breakeven level. Employment was the only Barometer component that fell, having rallied to a 16-month high in August.
Meanwhile, Supplier Deliveries lengthened to the highest level since May 2016. Some companies reported difficulties in getting MRO supplies, with lead times at the longest since September 2015.
An equal number of firms reported increasing inventories as decreasing them, with the Inventories indicator rising just above 50 in September, having edged into contraction territory in August.
Prices Paid rose slightly, indicating early signs of pipeline inflationary pressures, after four consecutive monthly falls left the indicator running at a five-month low.
In response to September’s special question, 79 percent of Chicago panellists said the run-up to November Presidential Elections is having a negligible impact on business.
“Economic growth in the US appears to have picked up a little at the end of the third quarter and although the Employment component fell, this was on the back of a relatively strong showing in the previous month. Employment usually lags changes in orders and output, so it was not that surprising to see this component weakening in September,” said Lorena Castellanos, senior economist at MNI Indicators.