Last updateFri, 18 May 2018 4pm


Fed Reports Increase in U.S. Manufacturing Sector

Economic activity expanded at a modest to moderate pace across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in January and February, according to the newest Beige Book report. Consumer spending was mixed, as non-auto retail sales increased in just over half of the Districts. Increases in production were broad based across manufacturing sectors, with all but one District noting at least modest growth in activity.

Across the country, contacts observed persistent labor market tightness and brisk demand for qualified workers. Several districts reported continued worker shortages across most sectors. 

Factory Goods Orders Fell 1.4% in January

New orders for manufactured goods in January, down following five consecutive monthly increases, decreased $6.9 billion or 1.4% to $491.7 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports. This followed a 1.8% December increase. Shipments, up thirteen of the last fourteen months, increased $2.8 billion or 0.6% to $498.8 billion.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in January, down following two consecutive monthly increases, decreased $9.0 billion or 3.6% to $240.0 billion, up from the previously published 3.7% decrease. This followed a 2.7% December increase. 

Mid-America Jobs, Inflation, Exports Soared

The February Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, an economic indicator for the nine-state region stretching from Arkansas to North Dakota, jumped to a very healthy reading pointing to healthy growth for the next three to six months.

The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, expanded to a very healthy 59.7 from January’s 57.3. This is the 15th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral, continuing to point to positive growth for the region over the next three to six months. 

ISM: Manufacturing Grew at Fastest Rate Since 2004

Manufacturing expanded in February as the PMI registered 60.8%, an increase of 1.7% from the January reading of 59.1%. “This indicates growth in manufacturing for the 18th consecutive month at strong levels led by continued expansion in new orders, production activity, employment and inventories, with suppliers continuing to struggle delivering to demand. The PMI at 60.8% is the highest level of expansion seen since May 2004, when it reached 61.4%,” says Timothy R. Fiore, CPSM, C.P.M., chair of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. 

Consumer Confidence Level Highest Since 2000

Consumer confidence improved to its highest level since 2000 after a smaller increase in January. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in February to 130.8, up from 124.3 in January. The Present Situation Index increased from 154.7 to 162.4, while the Expectations Index improved from 104.0 last month to 109.7 this month.

Those saying business conditions are “good” increased slightly from 35.0% to 35.8%, while those saying business conditions are “bad” decreased from 13.0% to 10.8%. 



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