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--Chicago Business Barometer 61.0 Q3 VS 61.1 Q2
By Jamie Satchithanantham
LONDON (MNI) - The MNI Chicago Business Barometer rose to 65.2 in
September, up from 58.9 in August, hitting the highest level in three months and
the second highest level in more than three years.
Optimism among firms about business conditions was bolstered in September
after August's flat showing, with each of the Barometer's sub-components
strengthening. A marked rise in Order Backlogs, up to a 29-year high, was among
the month's highlights. September's survey result left the Q3 calendar average
of the Barometer at 61.0, virtually unchanged from Q2's three-year high of 61.1.
The sharp rise in sentiment was the result of widespread gains, though
particularly concentrated in demand, backlogs and employment. Together, these
account for 60% of the headline Barometer. The increases in Production and
Supplier Deliveries, accounting for the remaining 40%, were slightly more modest
Four of the five Barometer components rose to levels just shy of their
respective highs set in June, with only Order Backlogs surpassing its own,
hitting a level not seen since July 1988. Output and New Orders rose for the
second consecutive month in September while the recent barrage of storms across
the country was reported to have weighed on delivery times.
The adverse weather conditions also led some companies to stockpile goods
as a precautionary measure. The Inventories indicator rose by 8.4 points to
56.9, the highest level since March.
After three consecutive monthly falls, the Employment indicator returned to
above-50 territory in September. Despite the rise, companies continued to report
difficulty in finding suitable, skilled workers alongside evidence of firms
hiring temporary staff and staff working overtime hours.
This month's special question asked firms about their perceptions of
supplier delivery times in the final quarter of the year amid the storms in the
Texas/Louisiana region. At 58.6%, the majority of firms said they expected
delivery times to remain unchanged, with 38% believing delivery times would
lengthen by some degree and some reporting that they were already experiencing
disruption across container/trucking routes. The remaining 3.5% forecasted
delivery times to shorten over Q4.
Inflationary pressures at the factory gate rose markedly in September to a
level not seen since July 2011. Elevated commodity prices alongside the more
immediate hurricane-induced materials shortages appear to be behind the
"The strong outturn in September means that on a quarterly basis business
activity was broadly unchanged from an already impressive Q2. Looking forward,
firms are on record expecting a busy Q4 despite disruptions caused by the recent
storms, with just a handful expecting delivery times to lengthen from October
through December," said Jamie Satchi, Economist at MNI Indicators.