The National Association of Credit Management’s monthly economic report showed the effects of a continued harsh winter. An improvement in amount of credit extended tempered by a decline in the number of companies applying for credit indicates a continued caution.
Columbia, MD: March 31, 2014—The Credit Managers’ Index (CMI) from the National Association of Credit Management (NACM) saw little change in the readings for March as it slipped a fraction from 55.6 to 55.5. The stall at February and December levels leaves January’s spike as the anomaly in recent months. The index’s readings, which had fluctuated since October, provided cautious expectations of consistent future growth. It was hoped that the February reading was the outlier, rather than a grim thesis for the rest of 2014, but a holding pattern due in part to the effects of a harsh winter is preferred to a decline, leaving room for some optimism about the economy in months to come.
Most of the factors comprising the March CMI stayed the same from the previous month, with a few notable exceptions. The sub-index of favorable factors slipped very slightly from 59.4 to 59. Within this index, sales moved from 59.4 to 59.1, staying on the low side of the last year. In the previous 12 months, the sales reading was above 60 for eight months, but fell into the high 50s for the last two. New credit applications slid from 58.1 to 57.3. Dollar collections dipped from 58.8 to 56.4, posting the most dramatic change in the favorable factors. The only positive shift was in amount of credit extended from 61.4 to 63.1. “The rise in amount of credit extended is better news than it might seem as it suggests some anticipation for better days ahead,” said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl. “That credit was being extended despite the drop in applications for credit is a good sign in general.”