The mood in manufacturing seemed to shift sometime during the summer. Granted, it couldn't have gotten much worse from the spring, but at least the dark mood didn't last any longer than it did.
The PMI, an index compiled by the Institute for Supply Management, broke through 50 percent in August. It was a huge relief. It had been below 50, indicating decreasing manufacturing activity, for nearly 18 months. Capacity utilization among steelmakers also was on the way up in August (from a ridiculously low 44 percent in May), as was capacity utilization among fabricators, which had hit bottom at 62.1 percent in June.
This isn't to say that all the indicators are going in the same direction. But on balance, it looks like the economy is strengthening and manufacturing is getting healthier by the day.