Tag: trade deficit

Monday Economic Report – March 9, 2015

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

According to the latest NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers, which will be released this morning, business leaders remain mostly confident about activity over the coming months. In fact, 88.5 percent of respondents said they were either somewhat or very positive about the own company’s outlook, and the data are consistent with 3 percent growth in manufacturing production over the next two quarters. Yet, manufacturers who replied to this survey were slightly less upbeat than they were three months ago, when 91.2 percent of respondents were positive in their outlook. Sales, exports and hiring expectations over the next 12 months also decelerated slightly, even as they remain improved from the paces seen a year ago. (continue reading…)

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U.S. Trade Deficit Narrowed Somewhat in January

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed somewhat, down from $45.60 billion in December to $41.75 billion. December’s figure exceeded the average of $42.06 billion observed in 2014 as a whole, and it was the highest level of the year. For January, both goods exports (down from $134.22 billion to $128.71 billion) and goods imports (down from $199.23 billion to $190.33 billion) were lower, with the latter falling by more. The trade surplus in the service sector widened marginally, up from $19.42 billion to $19.87 billion. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – February 9, 2015

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

Manufacturers in the United States have added roughly 18,800 workers per month on average over the past 13 months, with an average of 29,000 from October through January. This suggests that the momentum in demand and production in the second half of 2014 has led to an uptick in hiring, which is encouraging. Income growth was also higher, with average weekly earnings up 2.0 percent year-over-year in January. At the same time, the larger economy has also seen strong growth, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by nearly 260,000 per month since the end of 2013. The unemployment rate edged up to 5.7 percent, however, as more Americans re-entered the labor force looking for work. The participation rate rose from 62.7 percent to 62.9 percent. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – January 12, 2015

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…)

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Monday Economic Report – December 8, 2014

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

This morning, we will release the results from the latest NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers. Business leaders continue to reflect optimism about the coming months, with 91.2 percent of survey respondents saying they are either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook. Moreover, manufacturers predict growth of 4.5 percent in sales and 2.1 percent in employment  over the next 12 months, with both experiencing the strongest pace in at least two years. (continue reading…)

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U.S. Trade Deficit Edged Marginally Lower in October

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit edged marginally lower, down from $43.60 billion in September to $43.43 billion in October. The increase in goods exports (up from $136.04 billion to $138.05 billion) essentially matched the gain in goods imports (up from $198.74 billion to $200.72 billion), with the service sector goods surplus rising from $19.10 billion to $19.24 billion.

Petroleum exports have fallen from $14.13 billion in August to $10.98 billion in October. Much of this decline can be explained by lower crude oil costs. Interestingly, however, petroleum imports have declined by less, down from $27.26 billion in August to $26.22 billion in October. As a result, the petroleum trade deficit has risen from $13.13 billion in August to $15.24 billion in October, its highest point in five months. (continue reading…)

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Monday Economic Report – November 10, 2014

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

yoy manufacturing sector employment - nov2014Last week, we received a number of encouraging reports on the state of the manufacturing sector and the U.S. economy. The Institute for Supply Management reported that its manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rebounded, up from 56.6 in September to 59.0 in October. This brought the index back up to where it was in August, with both readings at their highest levels since March 2011. This suggests that the manufacturing sector was making healthy gains as we began the fourth quarter, and as further evidence, demand and production were both higher in October. In fact, the new orders and output indices have now been 60 or greater for six straight months. Hiring also picked up. (continue reading…)

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U.S. Trade Deficit Widened Somewhat in September on Reduced Exports

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit widened somewhat, up from $39.99 billion in August to $43.03 billion in September. This was the highest deficit since May, and it mainly resulted from fewer goods exports (down from $138.65 billion to $136.07 billion). Service-sector exports were also off slightly, down from $59.92 billion to $59.51 billion. In contrast, imports of goods and services were little changed. (continue reading…)

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Global Manufacturing Economic Update – September 12, 2014

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

Net exports have been a drag on the U.S. economy so far through the first half of this year, with manufacturers continuing to experience sluggish sales growth in international markets. With that said, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed a bit in July to its lowest level in six months, with growth in goods exports outpacing growth in goods imports. Petroleum trade accounted for a significant portion of the change in each, and in general, energy has helped to narrow the deficit from that of a couple years ago. Another positive note was the fact that each of the top-five trading partners for U.S.-manufactured goods experienced increases in manufactured goods exports year-to-date relative to the same time frame last year using non-seasonally adjusted data.

Along those lines, manufacturers worldwide saw modest growth, with a slight improvement from the month before. The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose marginally, up from 52.4 in July to 52.6 in August. The good news is that this marks the 21st straight month of expanding activity globally; yet, it is also clear that the pace of growth has not changed much this year. Still, manufacturing activity in August expanded in 9 of the top 10 markets for U.S.-manufactured goods, an improvement from just five markets in May.

Nonetheless, the data also show signs of softness, most notably in Europe and in China. Real GDP in the Eurozone fell 0.2 percent in the second quarter, with recent industrial production and retail sales data trending lower, as well. The Markit Eurozone Manufacturing PMI declined from 51.8 to 50.7, its lowest level since July 2013, when Europe was just emerging from its deep recession. Still, the economic health of various European nations varies widely, ranging from deteriorating activity in France to relatively robust growth in Ireland. For its part, the European Central Bank has once again lowered interest rates in the hope of spurring more economic activity and additional lending. With these actions and slow growth in Europe, the euro has depreciated against the dollar, down from a recent high of $1.3924 for one euro on May 6 to yesterday’s close of $1.2921 on September 11.

Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers have reported expanding levels of activity for three straight months (June to August), which by itself is progress after starting the year with five months of contraction. However, the HSBC China Manufacturing PMI declined from 51.7 to 50.2, or just barely above neutral, with decelerating levels of new orders, output and exports. Moreover, while real GDP in China picked up slightly from a year-over-year pace of 7.4 percent in the first quarter to 7.5 percent in the second quarter, we expect to continue to see an easing in growth rates moving forward. We have also seen decelerating rates of growth—albeit still healthy ones by our standards—for industrial production, fixed asset investments and retail sales. Slower growth in China has also helped to pull down overall manufacturing activity in the emerging markets.

U.S. trade talks continue this month with both Asia-Pacific nations and Europe, while the World Trade Organization seeks to move forward both trade facilitation and environmental goods discussions. Domestically, a range of trade and international financing legislation awaits action, including the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, whose charter expires on September 30.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. us trade deficit - sept2014

 

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Monday Economic Report – September 8, 2014

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

The U.S. economy added 142,000 nonfarm payroll workers in August, a disappointing figure given signs of a rebound in many other indicators lately. The consensus expectation had been for nonfarm payroll growth to exceed 200,000 jobs for the seventh consecutive month, as was observed in the estimates provided by ADP the day before. Manufacturing employment was flat for the month, which was also a disappointment. It ended a 12-month streak of job gains for the sector, a period in which manufacturers added 168,000 net new workers. Hopefully, the August jobs report was just a brief pause in what otherwise had been positive news on the labor front.

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data provides much encouragement that manufacturing activity is moving in the right direction heading into the autumn months. The headline PMI figure rose from 57.1 in July to 59.0 in August, its highest level since March 2011, and it reflected a robust recovery from weaknesses earlier in the year. Indeed, new orders and production expanded at healthy paces. These findings mirror the latest NAM/IndustryWeek Survey of Manufacturers, which is being released this morning, showing respondents mostly upbeat about their own company’s outlook, with sales, capital spending and hiring expectations at two-year highs. Indeed, 87.3 percent of those taking the survey were either somewhat or very positive in their outlook, up from 85.9 percent three months ago. The data are largely consistent with 3.1 percent growth in manufacturing production over the next two quarters.

Manufacturers spent 4.4 percent more on construction projects in July, also providing some reassuring news. The sector has devoted 23.9 percent more to construction projects over the past 12 months, an indication that the increase in demand and output observed over that time frame has resulted in a jump in new investments. Meanwhile, new factory orders data provided mixed news. While orders increased by a whopping 10.5 percent in July, much of that stemmed from highly volatile nondefense aircraft sales. Excluding transportation orders, new factory orders declined 0.8 percent for the month, a finding that we had noted in the earlier release of preliminary durable goods data. Still, factory orders excluding transportation have risen 2.7 percent over the past six months (since weather-related declines in January), which mostly mirrors the more positive data in other releases.

Looking at exports, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed ever-so-slightly in July, with an increase in goods exports marginally offsetting an increase in goods imports. Yet, manufactured goods exports have risen only slightly year-to-date, up just 0.8 percent so far in 2014 using non-seasonally adjusted data. On the other hand, these same figures show that exports to our top five exports markets were higher through the first seven months of this year relative to last year. Regardless, manufacturers hope that the pace of export growth accelerates, with sluggish sales frustrating business leaders and net export growth providing a drag on real GDP over the past two quarters.

This week, we will get new data on consumer confidence, job openings, retail sales and small business optimism. Markets will also continue to digest Friday’s employment numbers, trying to decipher if they were an aberration or a sign of larger weaknesses. In particular, this discussion centers on how the Federal Reserve will interpret such things, with a debate already ongoing as to when the Federal Open Market Committee will begin to increase short-term interest rates. Conventional wisdom holds that short-term interest rates will rise sometime in 2015, but whether that occurs earlier or later in the year is up for debate between those who are more hawkish or dovish on inflation. In the Beige Book, which was released last Wednesday, the Fed mostly observed progress in the economy in recent months, including in manufacturing. Yet, as long as the Fed continues to see “slack” in the labor market, it might be less willing to normalize rates.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. 
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