04252017Tue
Last updateTue, 25 Apr 2017 6pm

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Texas Manufacturing Expansion Continued in April

Texas factory activity increased for the 10th consecutive month in April, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, moved down three points to 15.4, suggesting output growth continued but at a slightly slower pace this month. Perceptions of broader business conditions improved again.

Other measures of current manufacturing activity also indicated continued expansion in April. The survey’s demand indicators saw upward movement, with the new orders and growth rate of orders indexes edging up to 11.5 and 5.1, respectively. The shipments index also moved up, rising three points to 9.5. The capacity utilization index fell slightly but stayed positive for a 10th month in a row, coming in at 11.5. 


Are Women the Key to Closing U.S. Skills Gap?

The Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte and APICS have just released, “Women in Manufacturing: Stepping up to make an impact that matters.” The joint study is the result of more than 600 survey responses from women professionals in the manufacturing industry, along with nearly 20 manufacturing executive interviews. The insights point to how companies can effectively recruit, retain and advance talented women in manufacturing, and illustrates ways that women in manufacturing are making an impact in the industry.

This study confirms the importance of increasing the amount of women in the manufacturing workforce and that many manufacturers are missing a critical talent pool, which could aid in closing the skills gap

Fed Beige Book Showing Continued Economic Expansion

Economic activity increased in each of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts between mid-February and the end of March, with the pace of expansion equally split between modest and moderate. In addition, the pickup was evident to varying degrees across economic sectors.

Manufacturing continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace, although growth in freight shipments slowed slightly. All ten contacted manufacturers said sales were higher in recent periods versus the comparable period a year ago. Most contacts reported that capital expenditures were confined to maintenance of existing equipment. Several contacts expressed concerns about policy uncertainty. Firms said that a Border Adjustment Tax would have mixed effects but hoped for some resolution. 

IMF Raises Global Growth Forecast to 3.5% This Year

Global economic activity is picking up with a long-awaited cyclical recovery in investment, manufacturing and trade, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. World growth is expected to rise from 3.1% in 2016 to 3.5% in 2017 and 3.6% in 2018. Stronger activity, expectations of more robust global demand, reduced deflationary pressures, and optimistic financial markets are all upside developments. But structural impediments to a stronger recovery and a balance of risks that remains tilted to the downside, especially over the medium term, remain important challenges. 

U.S. Industrial Production Rose 0.5% in March

Industrial production increased 0.5% in March after moving up 0.1% in February. The increase in March was more than accounted for by a jump of 8.6% in the output of utilities—the largest in the history of the index—as the demand for heating returned to seasonal norms after being suppressed by unusually warm weather in February. Manufacturing output fell 0.4% in March.

For the first quarter as a whole, industrial production rose at an annual rate of 1.5%. At 104.1% of its 2012 average, total industrial production in March was 1.5% above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector increased 0.4% in March to 76.1%, a rate that is 3.8% below its long-run (1972–2016) average. 

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