Volumes of new work received by U.S. manufacturers continued to increase at a solid pace during November, but the latest rise was the weakest since the start of the year. Anecdotal evidence suggested a greater degree of caution among clients and weaker sales to export markets. Although only modest, the latest data indicated that new business from abroad decreased at the fastest pace since June 2013.
The latest survey indicated that backlogs of work were broadly unchanged across the U.S. manufacturing sector, which ended a nine-month period of expansion. Despite reduced pressure on operating capacity, manufacturing job creation remained relatively strong in November. Moreover, the rate of employment growth accelerated since the previous month and was the second-fastest since January 2013.
There were again signs of pressure on supply chains in November, as highlighted by a deterioration in vendor performance for the seventeenth successive month. However, latest data indicated that input buying growth eased to its least marked since March. Manufacturers recorded a solid increase in their pre-production inventories during November. Meanwhile, stocks of finished goods were accumulated for the fifth month running.
Input price inflation eased further in November, with the latest rise in average cost burdens the slowest since April. A number of survey respondents cited lower commodity prices and falling energy costs at their plants. Factory gate price inflation also remained relatively subdued in November, reflecting strong competition for new work and falling input cost pressures across the manufacturing sector.