5 of 6 main components showed month-over-month decreases: new orders (down 2.3 percentage points to 61.9); production (down 1 percentage point to 61); employment (down 2.4 percentage points to 57.3); supplier deliveries (down 0.5 percentage point to 60.6); and inventories (down 1.2 percentage points to 55.5).
"Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength. Demand remains robust, with the New Orders Index at 60 or above for the 11th straight month, and the Customers’ Inventories Index at its lowest level since July 2011. The Backlog of Orders Index continued a 14-month expansion with its highest reading since May 2004, when it registered 63 percent. Consumption, described as production and employment, continues to expand, with indications that labor and skill shortages are affecting production output. Inputs, expressed as supplier deliveries, inventories and imports, were negatively impacted by weather conditions; Asian holidays; lead time extensions; steel and aluminum disruptions across many industries; supplier labor issues; and transportation difficulties due to driver and equipment shortages. Export orders remained strong, supported by a weaker US currency."
Meanwhile, the prices sub-index rose 3.9 percentage points to 78.1 percent in March, the highest level since April 2011, indicating higher raw materials prices for the 25th consecutive month.
Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 17 reported growth in March, in the following order: Fabricated Metal Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Paper Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Transportation Equipment; Petroleum & Coal Products; Wood Products; Machinery; Chemical Products; Textile Mills; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Furniture & Related Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; and Primary Metals. The only industry reporting a decrease during the period is Apparel, Leather & Allied Products.