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The survey's composite index is a leading indicator for the manufacturing sector. The January 2015 composite index slipped to 66 from 67 in the October 2014 survey, the second straight decline after six quarters of incremental improvement. Still, it marked the 21st consecutive quarter the index has remained above the threshold of 50, the dividing line separating contraction and expansion.
"The trends in both current and future business conditions were mixed," said Donald A. Norman, MAPI Foundation director of economic studies and survey coordinator. "The results of the January survey point to continued expansion of manufacturing activity heading into 2015, but at a slightly slower pace than in the latter half of 2014."
The Composite Business Outlook Index is based on a weighted sum of the Prospective U.S. Shipments, Backlog Orders, Inventory, and Profit Margin Indexes. In the report, the views of 53 senior financial executives representing a broad range of manufacturing industries are segmented into 12 individual indexes split between current business conditions and forward-looking prospects. Of those 12 indexes, 4 increased and 8 declined.
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