Last updateFri, 18 May 2018 4pm


Global Manufacturing PMI at Five-Month Low in March

The rate of expansion in the global manufacturing sector eased to a five-month low in March, as companies reported slower growth of output, new orders and employment. The J.P.Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI posted 53.4 in March, down from 54.1 in February and its lowest reading since October 2017. The average level over the opening quarter as a whole (54.0) was nonetheless unchanged from the prior quarter.

March data signaled slower rates of expansion in both the consumer and intermediate goods sectors, with growth at three- and seven-month lows respectively. The Investment Goods PMI rose to its highest level in the year-so-far. 

China Announces Series of Economic Reforms

As part of a long-planned speech to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s economic opening, Chinese president Xi Jinping “reaffirmed or expanded several proposals to increase imports, lower foreign-ownership limits on manufacturing and boost the protection of intellectual property,” Bloomberg  reports.

“The policies, which China has been rolling out for months as part of its own economic development plans, also address issues central to U.S. trade complaints.” 

Construction Index Climbs 6.1% in March

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 6.1% higher in March, rising to 155.0 from the revised February reading of 146.0. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. March’s gain was the result of a 9.6% increase in the commercial component – more than erasing the 5.1% decline it had seen the previous month. The gain in the institutional sector meanwhile was milder, moving 1.6% higher, following an 8.1% gain in February. During the first nine months of 2017, the overall Momentum Index made little progress. However, planning activity shot up in the fourth quarter, with that impetus continuing into the first three months of 2018. 

Manufacturing Technology Orders Up 27% in 2018

U.S. manufacturing technology orders for the first two months of 2018 climbed 27% higher than the same period in 2017 signaling continued strength in the recovery initiated in June 2017, according to the latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) report from The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). Orders totaled $354 million in February, down 5% from a 22-year high in January.

The key leading indicators for the manufacturing technology market were very strong in February and March. Capacity utilization for durable manufacturing moved upwards 1% to 76% in February as did industrial production which climbed to and index level of 106. 

U.S. Adds 103,000 Jobs in March

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Employment increased in manufacturing, health care and mining.

In March, employment in manufacturing rose by 22,000, with all of the gain in the durable goods component. Employment in fabricated metal products increased over the month (+9,000). Over the year, manufacturing has added 232,000 jobs; the durable goods component accounted for about three-fourths of the jobs added. 



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