Last updateFri, 15 Dec 2017 3pm


Texas Manufacturing Expansion Slows but Remains Solid

Texas factory activity continued to expand in November, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 10 points from its October reading but remained elevated at 15.1. Perceptions of broader business conditions remained highly positive in November.

Other measures of manufacturing activity also pointed to November growth that was slightly slower than in October but still well above average. The new orders index moved down five points to 20.0, and the capacity utilization and shipments indexes similarly fell to 17.3 and 16.7, respectively. Meanwhile, the growth rate of orders index signaled a stronger pickup in demand, climbing six points to 18.1. This represents the index’s highest reading since 2010. 

Durable Goods Orders Unexpectedly Fell 1.2%

New orders for manufactured durable goods in October decreased $2.8 billion or 1.2% to $236.0 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This decrease, down following two consecutive monthly increases, followed a 2.2% September increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.4%. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 0.8%. Transportation equipment, also down following two consecutive monthly increases, drove the decrease, $3.5 billion or 4.3% to $77.1 billion. 

Conference Board Economic Index Rose in October

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 1.2% in October to 130.4 (2010 = 100), following a 0.1% increase in September, and a 0.4% increase in August.

“The U.S. LEI increased sharply in October, as the impact of the hurricanes dissipated,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of business cycles and growth research at The Conference Board. “The growth of the LEI, coupled with widespread strengths among its components, suggests that solid growth in the US economy will continue through the holiday season and into the new year.” 

U.S. Industrial Output Up 0.9% in October

Industrial production rose 0.9% in October, and manufacturing increased 1.3%. The index for utilities rose 2.0%, but mining output fell 1.3%, as Hurricane Nate caused a sharp but short-lived decline in oil and gas drilling and extraction. Even so, industrial activity was boosted in October by a return to normal operations after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma suppressed production in August and September. Excluding the effects of the hurricanes, the index for total output advanced about 0.3% in October, and the index for manufacturing advanced about 0.2%. 

Empire State Manufacturing Survey Shows Continued Growth

Business activity continued to grow strongly in New York State, according to firms responding to the November 2017 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. Though the headline general business conditions index fell eleven points from the multiyear high it reached last month, it remained firmly in positive territory at 19.4. The new orders index climbed to 20.7 and the shipments index came in at 18.4—readings that pointed to ongoing solid gains in orders and shipments. Delivery times were slightly shorter than last month, and inventory levels edged higher. Labor market indicators reflected moderate employment gains and little change in hours worked. Both input prices and selling prices rose at a pace that was little changed from last month. Indexes assessing the six-month outlook suggested that firms were very optimistic about future business conditions. 

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