Last updateFri, 15 Dec 2017 3pm


Consumer Sentiment Reaches Highest Level Since 2004

According to the University of Michigan, consumer sentiment slipped ever so slightly in late October, despite remaining at its highest monthly level since the start of 2004. This is only the second time the Sentiment Index has been above 100.0 since the end of the record 1990's expansion, and its average during the first ten months of 2017 (96.7) has been the highest since 2000 (108.5). The October gain was reflected in more favorable consumers' assessments of current economic conditions (+4.8) as well as expected economic prospects (+6.1). Personal finances were judged near record favorable levels due to gains in household incomes as well as decade highs in home and stock values. 

U.S. GDP Grew at 3.0% Rate in Third Quarter 2017

Real GDP in the U.S. increased at an annual rate of 3.0% in the third quarter of 2017, compared to 2.5% expected, according to the advance estimate released by the Department of Commerce. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 3.1%.

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, exports and federal government spending. These increases were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased. 

Durable Goods Orders Up More Than Expected in September

New orders for manufactured durable goods in September increased $5.1 billion or 2.2% to $238.7 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. Economists polled were predicting an increase of 1.0% for the month. This 2.2% figure, up three of the last four months, followed a 2.0% August increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.7%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 2.0%. Shipments of manufactured durable goods in September, up four of the last five months, increased $2.4 billion or 1.0% to $240.5 billion. 

Businesses Grew at Fastest Pace in 8 Months

In October, IHS Markit data indicated a robust and accelerated expansion of U.S. private sector business activity. The upturn was supported by the fastest rise in manufacturing production for eight months, alongside another robust increase in service sector output.

October data also pointed to the greatest pressure on manufacturing supply chains since early- 2014. Survey respondents widely cited disruption and stretched workloads among suppliers following hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 

Equipment Borrowing by U.S. Businesses Down 7%

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, showed their overall new business volume for September was $8.7 billion, down 7% year-over-year from new business volume in September 2016. Volume was up 12% month-to-month from $7.8 billion in August. Year to date, cumulative new business volume was up 4% compared to 2016.

“Third quarter new business volume was steady, if not exceptional, despite the string of devastating weather events that plagued parts of the U.S. during the month of September. Positive cumulative year-to-date volume is indicative of healthy capex, which shows that business owners continue to choose financing as a means to acquire the equipment they need to run their operations. In addition, credit quality remains at historic lows. These metrics bode well for a solid end-of-year performance,” said ELFA president and CEO Ralph Petta.

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