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US Manufacturing PMI Hits 116-Month Low—Time to Get Defensive?

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May. 23 2019, Published 3:28 p.m. ET

US PMI

IHS Markit released its May PMI data for the United States today. The release showed that the composite output index, which gauges output from both the manufacturing and services sectors, came in at 50.9 for May compared to 53 in April. The index was at a 36-month low. US Services business activity also expanded at its slowest pace in 39 months as the corresponding index fell to 50.9 in May from 53 in April.

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Manufacturing growth slows

The highlight of the press release was the drop in the US Manufacturing PMI. The manufacturing PMI came in at 50.6 in May, compared to 52.6 in April. The index reading was at its lowest in the 116 months since September 2009.

Manufacturing output continued to grow—but at its slowest pace in 35 months. The output index came in at 50.8 in May, compared to 52.7 in April.

The May PMI data published by another provider, the Institute of Supply Management or ISM, is expected on June 3. The ISM PMI fell substantially in April to 52.8 from 55.3 in March.

Indexes and ETFs react

US indexes are having a rough day today amid lackluster economic data and trade war concerns.

The S&P 500 was down 1.65% at 2:31 PM ET. The industrial-focused Dow Jones Index was down 1.64%, and the NASDAQ was down 2.02%.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), which tracks the S&P 500 index, was down 1.64% while the SPDT Down Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) was down 1.53%.

The PMI reading still indicates expansion. However, the pace of expansion is falling. Right now, the biggest driver of your portfolio is probably trade deal news.

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