The United States economy released a raft of soft economic data this afternoon, as the focus remained on the US economy and the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations.
The S&P Global Flash US Manufacturing PMI declined to 48.5 in May of 2023 from 50.2 in April, well below forecasts of 50, preliminary estimates showed.
The reading pointed to the biggest contraction in the manufacturing sector in three months and a renewed deterioration in operating conditions. The drop was mainly due to weak demand and a reduced need to hold inputs following improved delivery times and lower new order inflows.
At the same time, output slowed while employment rose the most since September. Increased capacity aided firms’ efforts to process incomplete work. Backlogs fell sharply and at the fastest rate in three years.
Meanwhile, input prices fell for the first time since May 2020 and supplier delivery times improved the most on record. Finally, optimism regarding the outlook for output over the coming 12 months was the highest for a year as firms sought to invest in new product development and hoped for an uptick in client demand.
Data this afternoon also showed that Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Fifth District manufacturing firms experienced deteriorating business conditions in May. The composite manufacturing index fell from -10 in April to -15 in May, with declines seen in two of its three components, shipments and new orders.
While the employment index showed a slight increase, firms continued to be pessimistic about local business conditions, as evidenced by falling indexes. Firms also reported consistent reductions in order backlogs and vendor lead times.
Despite a significant decrease in the average growth rate of prices paid and a slight decline in the growth rate of prices received, firms expect these rates to moderate in the forthcoming year.
Housing data came out this afternoon which showed sales of new single-family houses in the US unexpectedly jumped 4.1% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annualised rate of 683,000 in April of 2023, the highest level since March last year, and compared to forecasts of 665,000.
However, data for March 2023 was revised sharply lower to show a 4% increase instead of a 9.6% rise initially reported.