Tag: economic outlook

Global Manufacturing Economic Update – April 17, 2015

Here is the summary for this month’s Global Manufacturing Economic Update: 

The global economic environment remains challenged, even as it continues to experience modest growth overall. The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI, for instance, observed the highest production levels since August. Yet, the overall pace of expansion has clearly eased over the past few months. Along those lines, manufacturers in half of the top 10 markets for goods manufactured in the United States reported declining levels of activity in March, up from just two countries in February. Three Asian economies shifted into contraction territory for the month: China, Hong Kong and South Korea. In addition, Brazil and Canada remained challenged, with the latter struggling on lower crude oil prices. Manufacturing in the emerging markets also stagnated in March, with weaknesses in a number of nations counteracting progress in others. (continue reading…)

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NFIB: Small Business Optimism Dipped in March

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said that small business owners were less confident in March. The Small Business Optimism Index dropped from 98.0 in February to 95.2 in March, its lowest level in 9 months. As such, it continues a trend of weaker survey responses so far in 2015, with the headline index down from 100.4 in December, its highest point since October 2006. To be fair, small businesses remain more upbeat today than one year ago (93.4 in March 2014), but growth has clearly slowed in the past three months due to economic headwinds seen in other reports, as well. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – March 30, 2015

Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report: 

As we have seen in past weeks, economic data continue to reflect dampened activity in the early months of 2015 as a result of a number of significant headwinds. These challenges range from weak economic growth abroad, to a significantly strengthened U.S. dollar, to the sharp drop in crude oil prices. Weather and the West Coast ports slowdown have also been relevant factors in some of the softness that we have seen in the reports released since December. As a result, the first quarter is likely to grow around 1.8 percent. This would be less than the 2.2 percent growth rate in real GDP seen during the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, I am predicting 2.8 percent growth in real GDP in 2015, reflecting a slight deceleration in my outlook for the year. The expectation is that we will see some rebounds moving forward, with manufacturers continuing to be more upbeat about the coming months, even with some challenges likely to continue. (continue reading…)

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Real GDP Grew 2.2 Percent in the Fourth Quarter, Consistent with its Earlier Estimate

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said that real GDP grew 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter.  As such, headline growth did not change in this second revision from its earlier estimate, released one month ago. The U.S. economy expanded 2.4 percent in 2014, only slightly better than the 2.3 percent and 2.2 percent rates seen in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Of course, that somewhat understates the strength of the economy mid-year, when real GDP growth averaged a rather robust 4.8 percent in the second and third quarters. (continue reading…)

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Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Contracted in March

The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity contracted in March, declining for the first time in 12 months. The composite index of general business conditions decreased from zero in February to -8 in March. The underlying data were lower across-the-board, reflecting weaknesses for the month in terms of overall activity and a deterioration from February’s numbers. This included new orders (down from -2 to -13), shipments (down from -1 to -13), capacity utilization (down from -4 to -7) and the average workweek (up from -6 to -4). As such, manufacturers clearly pulled back in a number of areas for the month, likely due to global slowness, a stronger dollar and reduced commodity prices. On the positive side, hiring (up from 4 to 6) continued to grow modestly, providing some encouragement moving forward. (continue reading…)

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Leading Economic Indicators Reflect Modest Growth in February

The Conference Board said that the Leading Economic Index (LEI) rose 0.2 percent in February, the same pace as observed in January. However, this was slower than the stronger rate of growth experienced just four months ago, when the LEI increased by 0.6 percent in October. Weaknesses abroad, a stronger U.S. dollar, weather and factors have been headwinds on the U.S. economy, which continues to expand modestly but at a slower rate. This can be seen in the latest industrial production, housing starts and retail sales figures, for instance. Specific to the LEI, new orders have decelerated, providing a bit of a drag on the headline number. Other challenges included the average workweek and initial unemployment claims.    (continue reading…)

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Philly Fed: Modest Manufacturing Growth in the District in March

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported that manufacturing activity has expanding modestly in March. The composite index of general business activity edged marginally lower, down from 5.2 in February to 5.0 in March. Overall activity has been softer-than-desired in the first three months of 2015, averaging just 5.5; whereas, the composite index had averaged a more robust 18.6 for 2014 as a whole. Nonetheless, the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey has now expanded for 13 straight months, and business leaders in the district remain relatively optimistic about the coming months. (continue reading…)

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The Fed Drops “Patience” from its Monetary Policy Statement

As expected, the Federal Reserve no longer says that it can be “patient” in normalizing monetary policy. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which met on March 17 and 18, does say that “an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting.” This would suggest that the soonest that short-term rate might increase would be at the June 16-17 meeting. With that said, the fed funds rate will change only when data warrant such actions. Still, conventional wisdom holds that the FOMC will vote to raise rates at some point in 2015, likely in June, July or September. For the most part, the Fed has been on automatic pilot with its intentions for a mid-year hike, and this action clears the way for that to happen. (continue reading…)

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NY Fed: Manufacturers Expanded in March, but at a Slower Pace

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey reported expansion in the sector for the third straight month in the district, but at a slower pace. The composite index of general business conditions from the New York Federal Reserve Bank has declined from 10.0 in January to 7.8 in February to 6.9 in March. The underlying data suggest a mixed picture for the sector. The pace of shipments (down from 14.1 to 7.9) eased for the month, but continued to grow at a decent rate. In contrast, growth in new orders (down from 1.2 to -2.4) slipped into negative territory. Roughly one-quarter of survey respondents said that their orders had increased for the month, with 27.5 percent noting declines. As such, these data mirror other indicators which reflect current headwinds in the economy. (continue reading…)

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Manufacturing Production Declined for the Third Straight Month in February

Manufacturing production decreased by 0.2 percent in February, according to the Federal Reserve Board. This followed declines in both December and January, down 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Each of the prior two month’s data points were revised lower, with January’s manufacturing production figure originally estimated as an increase of 0.2 percent. A number of headwinds have combined to bring about this softness in the manufacturing sector, including global economic weakness, a strong U.S. dollar, the West Coast ports slowdown, a cautious consumer and the weather in some parts of the country.

As a result, capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector fell for the third straight month, down from 78.1 percent in November to 77.3 percent in February. (continue reading…)

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