The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity declined in March, contracting for the first time in 12 months. The composite index of general business conditions declined from 1 in February to -4 in March. Perhaps more worrisome, the decline in new orders accelerated (down from -10 to -20), falling for the third straight month. The sample comments provide clues about why this is the case, with respondents noting a number of headwinds impacting their demand. These include snowstorms, reduced crude oil prices, the stronger U.S. dollar and the West Coast ports slowdown. (continue reading…)
Purported TPP Investment Text Confirms Pro-Rule of Law and Transparent Processes, but Raises Questions about Some TPP Countries’ Commitment to Fairness and the Rule of Law
Last night, WikiLeaks put out what it claims is the draft of the investment text being negotiated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
For manufacturers in the United States, many of whom use foreign investment to spur U.S. exports and make overseas sales, the text looks familiar because it is substantially based on the highly detailed U.S. model investment negotiating text that has been publicly available on both the websites of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of States since the Obama Administration completed its multi-year review of the investment text in April 2012. That review, which was public and sought input from stakeholders throughout the United States, resulted in a strong investment negotiating document that seeks a more level playing field for our nation’s manufacturers and other job-creators in this country. (continue reading…)
The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI reflected reduced activity again, down from 50.7 in February to 49.2 in March. It has contracted in three of the past four months now, reflecting a decelerated rate of growth in China. China has reduced its target real GDP growth rate for 2015 to 7 percent. New orders (down from 50.4 to 49.3), exports (up from 47.1 to 49.0) and employment (down from 49.3 to 47.0) were all below 50 in March – the threshold signifying growth. It was the reduction in demand that pushed the headline index lower. On the positive side, output (unchanged at 50.8) continues to expand very modestly for the month, and the decrease in input prices (up from 42.2 to 44.7) have helped manufacturers in terms of costs, even as the rate of decline was less in March. (continue reading…)
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said that growth in manufacturing activity has continued to slow over the past few months, starting 2015 off on a weaker note. The headline purchasing managers’ index (PMI) has fallen from 57.9 in October to 52.9 in February, its slowest pace since January 2014, when severe winter storms dampened activity across-the-board. The sample comments suggest that the West Coast ports slowdown and falling energy prices were top-of-mind for many of the respondents, helping to explain much of this easing. At the same time, the stronger U.S. dollar and sluggish growth abroad were also likely factors, with export orders (down from 49.5 to 48.5) declining for the second straight month. (continue reading…)
Today, manufacturers and small businesses from across the country were in our nation’s capital to fight for a critical component of our national economic policy: the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). More than 650 individuals paid their own way to come to Washington, D.C. to educate and inform our leaders in Congress about the role the Ex-Im Bank plays in ensuring American manufacturers can compete overseas on a level playing field.
The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI shifted to a marginal expansion in February, improving slightly after contracting for two straight months. The headline index increased from 49.7 in January to 50.1 in February. The underlying data were mixed. New orders (down from 50.8 to 50.4) and output (up from 50.1 to 50.8) grew slowly for the month, even as the pace of sales slipped a bit. At the same time, new export orders (down from 51.1 to 47.1) and employment (up from 49.1 to 49.3) declined on net. Export sales, in particularly, deteriorated to their lowest level since August 2013, which was disappointing. The index for hiring, which has contracted now for 24 consecutive months, increased to a 7-month high, with the pace of the decline decreasing. Final PMI data will be come out on Monday, March 2. (continue reading…)
The Markit Flash Eurozone Manufacturing PMI edged ever-so-slightly higher, up from 51.0 in January to 51.1 in February. This suggests very modest growth in manufacturing activity in February, with better data for new orders (up from 50.6 to 50.9), output (up from 52.1 to 52.2) and exports (up from 50.7 to 51.8). Hiring in the Flash Eurozone Composite PMI, which includes all segments of the economy, rose to its highest level since August 2011, but this was primarily in the service sector. Indeed, for manufacturers, the pace of employment growth was unchanged in February at 50.6. (continue reading…)
The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) decreased from 55.5 in December to 53.5 in January. This marks the third straight monthly easing in the headline PMI number, and signals that weaknesses in the global economy have begun to dampen demand for U.S. manufacturers. Indeed, the index for new orders has fallen from healthy growth in November (62.1) to still-decent gains in December (57.8) to a more-modest expansion to begin the new year (52.9). January’s new orders pace reached its slowest in 12 months, with export growth (down from 52.0 to 49.5) turning marginally negative. (continue reading…)
Here is the summary for this week’s Monday Economic Report:
The U.S. economy generated 2.95 million net new nonfarm payroll workers in 2014, the fastest annual pace since 1999. In addition, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent, its lowest level since June 2008. One might quibble that these figures overstate the overall health of the labor market, with part-time employment and unemployment still being a challenge. Indeed, the participation rate remains near 30-year lows. Still, the data suggest movement in the right direction. Manufacturers, for instance, hired an additional 15,500 workers on average each month in 2014, with 762,000 more employees since the end of 2009. The sector currently employs just more than 12.2 million workers. Therefore, manufacturing employment has increased at a decent pace of late, consistent with a mostly upbeat outlook. (continue reading…)
The Institute for Supply Management said that growth in manufacturing activity slowed somewhat in December. The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped from 58.7 in November to 55.5 in December, its lowest level in six months. While this was disappointing, it is important to note that new orders (down from 66.0 to 57.3) and production (down from 64.4 to 58.8) continued to expand at decent levels, albeit with less strength that in prior months. Indeed, this was the first time since June that the new orders index had been below 60, and December’s production figure ended seven consecutive months with that index exceeding 60. (continue reading…)