Last updateFri, 23 Jun 2017 4pm


Economic Indicators Index Rises for Fifth Straight Month

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.3% in May to 127.0, following a 0.2% increase in April, and a 0.4% increase in March.

“The U.S. LEI continued on its upward trend in May, suggesting the economy is likely to remain on, or perhaps even moderately above, its long-term trend of about 2% growth for the remainder of the year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim of The Conference Board. “The improvement was widespread among the majority of the leading indicators except for housing permits, which declined again. And, the average workweek in manufacturing has recently shown no sign of improvement.” 

U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Continue Strong Recovery

Manufacturing technology orders made year-over-year gains in April according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders report from The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). It was also the first month that orders showed gains year to date for 2017.

Monthly orders were up 12.3% compared to April 2016, and year-to-date orders were up 2.1% compared to the same point last year. The gains are in line with other indicators that show strength in manufacturing: growth in industrial production and consumer sentiment; PMI above 50 for the ninth consecutive month, indicating expansion; and business confidence at its highest level in 13 years. 

U.S. Economic Picture for First Half of 2017 Changes Little

Economic indicators released in May and June point to continued moderate growth and a mostly unchanged outlook for the U.S. The economy is approaching full employment, long-term inflation expectations remain anchored despite a recent dip in inflation, and real GDP is projected to grow at a moderate rate in 2017 and 2018.

The second revision for real GDP growth in first quarter 2017 shifted upward from 0.7% to 1.2%—weak relative to 2.1% in fourth quarter 2016. However, forecasts point to stronger growth beginning in the current quarter. 

Global Spending on Robots to Hit $87 Billion by 2025

The global market for robotics is growing far faster than expected and is projected to reach $87 billion by 2025, according to new research by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Updating its previous estimate of $67 billion from three years ago, the BCG recently revised its forecast sharply higher, mostly because of soaring consumer demand. BCG projects an additional $14 billion of growth in the consumer sector to $23 billion, an increase of 156% over its earlier estimate.

Many factors contributed to the need to revamp the estimates. First, in the space of just one year, from 2014 to 2015, private investment in the robotics space tripled, according to BCG. Fueling the surge in interest are falling prices, rapidly advancing capabilities and components usable in a far wider range of industries and applications than many observers had originally envisioned. 

Philly Manufacturing Continued to Expand in June

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s index for current manufacturing activity in the region decreased from a reading of 38.8 in May to 27.6 this month. The index has been positive for 11 consecutive months. In June 42% of the firms indicated increases in activity, down from 51% last month. The shipments index decreased 11 points, while the new orders index was little changed. Both the delivery times and unfilled orders indexes were positive for the eighth consecutive month, suggesting longer delivery times and increases in unfilled orders. 

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