Manufacturing firms signaled a marked improvement in operating conditions in February, as highlighted by the IHS Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index posting 58.5, down slightly from 59.2 in January. The headline index reading was buoyed in part due to a substantial deterioration in vendor performance (ordinarily a sign of improving manufacturing conditions). Although expansions in production and new orders softened, rates of growth were still steep overall, as manufacturers noted stronger client demand.
Output expectations among manufacturers improved in February. The degree of optimism was the highest since November 2020 amid hopes that client demand will remain strong and COVID-19 restrictions will come to an end during 2021.