Last updateThu, 22 Mar 2018 4pm


U.S. Business Borrowing Rose 31% in February

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for February was $7.7 billion, up 31% year-over-year from new business volume in February 2017. Volume was up 13% month-to-month from $6.9 billion in January. Year to date, cumulative new business volume was up 20% compared to 2017. 

Philly Fed Manufacturing Shows Continued Expansion

Results from the Philadelphia Fed’s March Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest continued growth for the region’s manufacturing sector. Although the survey’s index for general activity moderated, the indexes for new orders and shipments improved. The survey’s future indexes, measuring expectations for the next six months, reflected continued optimism.

The diffusion index for current general activity remained positive but declined, from 25.8 in February to 22.3 this month (see Chart 1). Nearly 37% of the manufacturers reported increases in overall activity this month, while 14% reported decreases. The indexes for current new orders and shipments recorded notable improvements this month. The current new orders index increased 11 points, with 52% of the firms reporting an increase in new orders. 

U.S. Industrial Production Rose 1.1% in February

Industrial production rose 1.1% in February following a decline of 0.3% in January. Manufacturing production increased 1.2% in February, its largest gain since October. Mining output jumped 4.3%, mostly reflecting strong gains in oil and gas extraction.

In February, manufacturing output increased 1.2%. Gains were recorded by every major manufacturing industry except for electrical equipment, appliances, and components and for petroleum and coal products. The production of durables climbed 1.8%, and the index for nondurables moved up 0.7%. The output of other manufacturing (publishing and logging) increased 0.4%. 

Survey Shows Inflation Expectations Moving Higher

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released the February 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows a slight increase in short- and medium- term inflation expectations. Consumers' expectations about their personal financial situations continued to improve. Expectations about changes in taxes declined to a new series’ low, while expectations about growth in government debt increased sharply.

Median inflation expectations increased by 0.1% at both the one-year and three-year horizons in February, to 2.8% and 2.9%, respectively. Median inflation uncertainty declined to series' lows at both horizons. 

U.S. Business Inventories Up, Sales Down

Manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1,917.0 billion, up 0.6% (±0.1%) from December 2017 and were up 3.7% (±0.3%) from January 2017.

The combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for January, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,426.0 billion, down 0.2% (±0.2%) from December 2017, but was up 5.7% (±0.4%) from January 2017.

The total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of January was 1.34. The January 2017 ratio was 1.37. 



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