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More strong news from the manufacturing sector

I don't usually pay much attention to the regional components of the ISM surveys (they don't always correlate well to the national survey), but this one is hard to ignore. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index has soared in recent months, well ahead of expectations. It hasn't been this strong since the boom days of the 1980s, and it's well above the levels recorded during the boom in the second half of 2003, when the economy grew at a 5.2% annual rate. Where there's smoke there's fire, as they say. Although not as strong as Chicago's number, the Dallas Fed and Milwaukee manufacturing surveys for February handily beat expectations. The economy is almost surely accelerating.

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