US manufacturing activity has been expanding at its fastest pace since June 2011. The M-PMI has jumped 4.0 points the past two months to 54.2 in February, after being range-bound the last half of 2012. During the first two months of 2013, the new orders index soared 8.1 points to a 22-month high of 57.8; the production index was 5 points higher at a 10-month high of 56.7. The inventory index (often volatile) climbed 8.5 points over the two months to 51.5. The employment index took a step back (from 54.0 to 52.6), though remains above December’s 51.9 reading. Sub-indexes show backlog orders soared 7.5 points in February to 55.0; indexes for export orders (53.5) and imports (54.0) climbed 3.0 and 4.0 points during the month.
Today's Morning Briefing: Pagliacci. (1) The clowns. (2) The sequel. (3) Beppe & Silvio. (4) Mario’s pledge isn’t unconditional. (5) Ben wants to take it easy for a long time. (6) Republicans won’t shut the government down. (7) Same old Kabuki? (8) China set for another round of massive urbanization. (9) Are the clowns bullish? (10) Will US economy pass latest stress test? (More for subscribers.)