Manufacturing Index Rebounds to Fastest Growth in Nearly 4 Years

The Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) jumped 5.6% to 56.7 for February, according to a Markit report (link opens as PDF) released today. According to Markit's metrics, this latest report marks the fastest manufacturing growth the U.S. has seen in nearly four years.

The "flash" estimate is typically based on approximately 85% to 90% of total PMI survey responses each month and is designed to provide an accurate advance indication of the final PMI data. An above-50 reading denotes general growth, while below 50 signals contraction.

Analysts had expected February's flash estimate to clock in at 53.5, but this month's report was pushed ahead by both production boosts and a wave of new orders.

Taking a closer look at components, output recovered from a three-month low to clock in at 57.2, while new orders made an almost 5-point improvement to 58.8. As a potential sign of longer-term confidence, employment remained solid, expanding 0.8 points to 54 for the strongest growth since March 2013 . 

"The flash manufacturing PMI provides the first indications that production has rebounded from the weather-related slowdown seen in January," said Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson in a statement today. "Having slumped to a three-month low in January the PMI surged to its highest for almost four years in February, as companies reported business returning to normal after freezing temperatures and snow disrupted operations and supply chains."

But gains weren't just weather-related. Williamson also pointed to a recovery-high rise in work backlogs as a sign of "robust" economic health.

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