WASHINGTON: US manufacturing activity picked up slightly in May but still showed weakness as the global economic slump continues to weigh, according to the Institute of Supply Management survey on Wednesday (Jun 1).
Echoing disappointing manufacturing readings in Europe and China, the ISM purchasing managers index for last month edged up to 51.3 from 50.8, still only slightly better than the 50 level which indicates no growth.
The main factors giving the index a boost were higher prices and higher supplier deliveries. But new orders and production fell, inventories and employment continued to contract.
Some manufacturers reported ongoing drag from the slow global economy, but others called business steady.
A survey respondent from the chemicals sector said Asian business was growing but sales were flat in Europe and the Americas. But another from the electronics sector pointed to low orders on the slower Chinese economy.
"Our business remains to be strong, but many of my suppliers are telling me their business is flat," added a person from the plastics and rubber products sector.
Earlier on Wednesday the May PMI reading for China came in barely above flat, at 50.1, while that for the eurozone fell to a three-month low at 51.5.
"Almost every PMI in the major manufacturing powerhouses is between 48 and 52. Anything that close to 50 is so close that no one can tell the difference," said Michael Montgomery at IHS Global Insight.