Economic activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in October for the 27th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 29th consecutive month, according to the latest manufacturing report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

The “Manufacturing ISM Report on Business” shows the ISM purchasing managers index (PMI) registered 50.8 percent, a decrease of 0.8 percentage point from September”s reading of 51.6 percent, indicating continuing expansion in the manufacturing sector.

The New Orders Index increased 2.8 percentage points from September to 52.4 percent, indicating a return to growth after three months of contraction.

The Prices Index, at 41 percent, dropped 15 percentage points, and is below the 50 percent mark for the first time since May 2009 when it registered 43.5 percent.

Inventories decreased to 46.7 percent, which is 5.3 percentage points below the September reading of 52 percent.

“Comments from respondents are mixed, indicating positive relief from raw materials pricing and continuing strength in a few industries, but there is also more concern and caution about growth in this uncertain economy,” said Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, which issued the report on Nov. 1.

Performance by Industry
Of the 18 manufacturing industries, eight report growth in October, in the following order: Computer & Electronic Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Primary Metals; Fabricated Metal Products; Paper Products; and Machinery.

The six industries reporting contraction in October (listed in order) are: Plastics & Rubber Products; Chemical Products; Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; and Miscellaneous Manufacturing.

Chart courtesy of ISM