The March report shows a steadiness, but nothing to inspire confidence in the economy.
Government inactivity and budget cuts related to sequester are the likely culprits.
Columbia, Maryland: March 29, 2013—The March Credit Managers' Index (CMI) from the National Association of Credit Management (NACM) fell slightly from 54.9 to 54.2, with both favorable and unfavorable factor indexes dipping by roughly equal amounts. Some individual showed significant movement, but there was no clear signal from any of the factors as far as financial stress is concerned, or anything to cause much confidence either.
Sales slipped from its position of 59.2 in February to 57.4 in March. This is a fairly substantial decline of 1.8, but at 57.4, the index is as high as it was in December. "The main concern is that for the last year, the sales reading has been averaging in the low 60s and now there seems to be a struggle to get there again," said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, PhD. On the encouraging side, the new credit applications number rose slightly (56.7 to 56.9). "A significant desire to expand seems to exist, and businesses are starting to more aggressively pursue credit," said Kuehl. "However, serious issues remain in balancing the desire for more credit and creditworthiness." Dollar collections also improved (57.5 to 57.7), and is continuing to trend in the right direction, but amount of credit extended fell (62.5 to 61.6), suggesting some return to caution on the part of trade creditors. The important point is that this category remains above 60, which is a healthy sign, Kuehl noted.