The strength of the advances in the ISM's gauges partly reflects impacts from hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Harvey forced the shutdowns of Houston-area refineries and chemical plants. Many retail establishments, including car dealerships, were flooded in the storms and merchandise was destroyed.
Timothy Fiore, the ISM survey committee chairman, said on a conference call that the most direct impact from the storms was in the supplier deliveries index, indicating longer lead times; that gauge factors into the overall index. Survey respondents also mentioned that they received new orders because of the hurricanes, further boosting the headline number.
Seventeen of 18 industries reported growth in September; only furniture makers showed contraction, according to ISM.
While increased factory bookings and production may also reflect a bounce-back from the storm, the nation's producers had already been on firmer footing because of improving global demand and an increase in U.S. capital spending. The ISM also reported a pickup in its measure of exports as producers benefit from a U.S. dollar that's weakened this year, making American-made goods more attractive to overseas purchasers.