U.S. Manufacturing Powers On Even as Inflation Heats Up in March

Updated: Apr 7

By Bloomberg

This article was published in Bloomberg March 26, 2021. The U.S. Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index reached a 37-year high in March 2021. More on the topic can be found via Reuters here. An analysis of recent global marketing output it available here.

American manufacturing continues to pour on the momentum as the first quarter draws to a close -- despite supply-chain woes and surging materials costs that are driving the inflation debate.

Freshly released March data show an increasing number of factory purchasing managers are reporting faster expansion. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s index of general business activity soared to an almost five-decade high, while the IHS Markit’s preliminary gauge of U.S. manufacturing was the second-strongest in data back to 2007.

Orders continue to grow as the economy gathers steam, while inventories of finished goods and stockpiles of materials remain lean -- a combination that should fuel even quicker production in the months ahead. Yet, therein lies the challenge.

Producers are struggling with shipping and port delays as importers battle over a limited number of available containers that has driven up costs. Those strains existed even before a ship stuck in the Suez Canal this week has raised more questions about the potential for future delays or price increases.