Last updateWed, 24 May 2017 2pm


Mid-America Manufacturing Continued to Rebound in March

The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, an economic indicator for a nine-state region stretching from Arkansas to North Dakota, dipped to a still healthy level for March, according the latest survey results.

The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, slipped to 60.1 from February’s strong 60.5. This is the fourth straight month the index has advanced above growth neutral.

“The overall index over the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy, and points to positive growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing through the third quarter of this year,” said Ernie Goss, Ph.D., director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group. 

ISM: Manufacturing Expands for Seventh Consecutive Month

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), manufacturing expanded in March as the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) registered 57.2%, a decrease of 0.5% from the February reading of 57.7%, indicating growth in manufacturing for the seventh consecutive month. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries 17 reported growth in March, led by electrical equipment, appliances & components and printing & related support activities. 

Manufacturers’ Survey Shows Optimism at 20-Year High

The newest National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey shows a dramatic shift in sentiment, with more than 93% of manufacturers feeling positive about their economic outlook. This is the highest in the survey’s 20-year history, up from 56.6% one year ago and 77.8% in December.

The survey shows not only a positive outlook but also that concerns about the business environment have dropped. When manufacturers were asked to identify top challenges to their business, concerns about the business environment fell to third place. This had previously been respondents’ top concern since the question was added to the survey in 2011. 

Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Grows at Fastest Rate in Nearly Seven Years

Manufacturers in the fifth district were generally upbeat in March, according to the latest survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The index for shipments and new orders both rose and employment gains were more common. This improvement led to a composite index for manufacturing that rose from 17 in February to 22 in March — the strongest reading for that index since April 2010. In addition to improvement in the employment index, more firms reported longer workweeks and wage increases appeared to be more widespread.

Looking six months ahead, manufacturing executives were generally optimistic, although for some indicators, they were less optimistic than in February. 

Consumer Confidence Reaches 16-Year High in March

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in February, improved sharply in March. The Index now stands at 125.6, up from 116.1 in February. The Present Situation Index rose from 134.4 to 143.1 and the Expectations Index increased from 103.9 last month to 113.8.

“Consumer confidence increased sharply in March to its highest level since December 2000 (Index, 128.6),” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions improved considerably. Consumers also expressed much greater optimism regarding the short-term outlook for business, jobs and personal income prospects. Thus, consumers feel current economic conditions have improved over the recent period, and their renewed optimism suggests the possibility of some upside to the prospects for economic growth in the coming months.” 

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