NEW YORK, Sept 9 U.S. manufacturers are
"cautiously optimistic" that growth will continue this year amid
an uptick in sales and production, though many cite uncertainty
over U.S. government policy as a concern, according to a survey
from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
Growth and hiring in the sector continue to be "modest at
best," the quarterly survey read, though it added that a NAM
model suggested that production could rise 3.5 percent over the
next two quarters, "which could indicate a pickup in activity
from the current pace."
The group has come under pressure this year, hurt by weaker
global demand and cuts in government spending. Government policy
continues to be a concern, according to the survey, with nearly
three-fourths of manufacturers citing rising health care costs
as their biggest challenge.
"Many respondents noted uncertainties in the implementation
of the Affordable Care Act as a major concern, and many are
still unaware of their premium costs for next year," wrote Chad
Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of
Manufacturers. "There is a strong perception that these costs
will rise significantly, particularly at the small and
While bond and equity markets have been strongly tethered to
U.S. Federal Reserve policy, uncertainty over when the central
bank will begin to slow its accommodative monetary policies was
not viewed as a major concern by the 285 manufacturers that
participated in the survey.
The respondents indicated "at least a moderate degree of
concern" over Fed policy, "but perhaps not as much as anecdotal
evidence might have suggested," the NAM said.
There have been signs of improvement in the manufacturing
sector. The Institute for Supply Management's August read on
manufacturing grew was at its highest level since June 2011.