The production index plunged 3.3 points from a month earlier to 50.8, and the employment index dropped 2.8 points to 51.7, the lowest level since November 2016. The prices paid index fell 2.8 points to 45.1.
Meanwhile, the new orders index rose 0.8 points to 50.8 from June's three-and-a-half-year low. In addition, increases were also recorded for supplier deliveries (+2.6 points to 53.3) and inventories (+0.4 points to 49.5).
“Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength, but at soft levels. July was the fourth straight month of slowing PMI® expansion. Demand expansion resumed, with the New Orders Index recording marginal growth, the Customers’ Inventories Index entering “about right” territory, and the Backlog of Orders Index contracting for the third straight month, at stronger levels compared to prior months. New export orders also contracted. Consumption (measured by the Production and Employment indexes) continued to expand, but at lower levels. This resulted in a combined decrease of 6.1 percentage points to the PMI® calculation due to minimal new-order growth, backlog contraction and customer-inventory gains. Inputs — expressed as supplier deliveries, inventories and imports — were lower this month, due to inventory tightening for the second straight month and continued slower supplier deliveries, resulting in a combined 3.0-percentage point improvement in the Supplier Deliveries and Inventories indexes. Imports and new export orders contracted. Overall, inputs indicate (1) supply chains are responding marginally slower and (2) supply managers are closely matching inventories to new orders. Prices contracted for the second consecutive month, indicating lower overall systemic demand.
“Respondents expressed less concern about U.S.-China trade turbulence, but trade remains a significant issue. More respondents noted supply chain adjustments as a result of moving manufacturing from China. Overall, sentiment this month is evenly mixed,” says Fiore.
Of the 18 manufacturing industries, nine reported growth in July, in the following order: Wood Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Furniture & Related Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Plastics & Rubber Products; Computer & Electronic Products; Textile Mills; Petroleum & Coal Products; and Chemical Products. The nine industries reporting contraction in July — in the following order — are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Primary Metals; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Transportation Equipment; Paper Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Machinery.