Since the beginning of the 2014 holiday fulfillment surge period in September of last year, Supply Chain Matters has featured commentaries related to potential impacts to multiple industry supply chains located in the United States.  This week, the ISM PMI Index provided quantification of such impacts.

We provided numerous commentaries, insights and updates related to the U.S. west coast port disruption that dragged on past December and into early this yearThose ports are still trying to recover and multiple manufacturing and retail focused industry supply chains were impacted by the delayed arrival of components and finished products.  We featured two commentaries on the current surge in the value of the U.S. dollar, and its impact on U.S. imports and exports. Finally, weather patterns brought severe cold and winter storm conditions across the U.S., particularly among the northeast states and across the New England region.

Earlier in the week, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) disclosed the PMI value for March which indicated the fifth consecutive month of decline and the lowest reading since May 2013.  The March value of 51.5 while a continued indication of expansion is considerably below the average PMI reading of 57.7 recorded for the 3 months in Q4. U.S. supply chain activity led all global regions throughout 2014 but has since fallen back due to headwinds.

According to ISM, PMI survey participants indeed pointed to lingering problems from the west coast port disruption, unusual winter weather and the stronger dollar as current challenges. Noted was that 11 industries reported slower supplier deliveries in March. Export orders declined for the third consecutive month. Eight industries reported higher inventories in March which could likely be an indicator of select shortages of key components or unplanned contraction in product demand. According to the ISM report, customer inventories were noted as being too low, yet another indicator of disruption.  The Backlog of Orders index declined two percentage points from the February reading. There were mixed indications relative to the current lower cost of crude oil.

However, based on trending data, ISM indicates some optimistic news indicating a likely rebound in the index in the coming months. Of the total 18 industries reported in the index, 10 of these industries reported growth in March. Nine industries reported growth in New Orders as well as growth in Production.

We will have further insights when we produce our review of select global-wide PMI Indices in our March quarterly newsletter. All registered subscribers of this blog automatically receive a copy of our quarterly newsletter. You can register via the Join Our Mailing List box located on the right side panel.

Bob Ferrari