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ISM Manufacturing Index: Learning from Last Month

With the ISM Numbers coming out today, this will be the first major economic indicator of the second quarter. The previous reading came in at 48.3 and consensus was for further contraction. Today's reading, just in, came in at 48.6 and is better than expected. A reading of 50 or more indicates an expanding economy while a reading under 50 reflects contraction. The chart below shows the index for the past 30 years. Grey bands represent recessions. Note we are far from the lows of the past recessions.

Here are some stocks that moved after the last ISM reading in March, when it fell back below 50.


S&P 500 Biggest Gainers on March 3, 2008 - With negative economic news, many defensive stocks were amongst the biggest gainers:

  • SuperValu gained 7.0%
  • Northrop Grumman gained 5.0%
  • Express Scripts gained 4.9%
  • Noble Energy gained 4.5%
  • Whirlpool gained 4.1%

S&P 500 Biggest Losers on March 3, 2008 - Evidence of a continued economic slowdown pushed Home Builders and Financials further down:

  • Ambac lost 10.8%
  • Lennar lost 10.1%
  • KB Homes lost 7.9%
  • Washington Mutual lost 7.8%
  • Apollo Group lost 7.2%