12162017Sat
Last updateFri, 15 Dec 2017 3pm

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Small Businesses Expanding at Strongest Pace Since 2006

Small business owners planning to make capital expenditures in the next three to six months reached its highest level since 2006, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Index of Small Business Optimism. The NFIB Index rose 0.1 points to 105.3. Five of the components increased, while five declined. The lofty reading keeps intact a string of historically high performances extending back to last November.

Plans to make capital outlays were most common among professional services firms (46%), followed by manufacturing (38%), wholesale trades (36%), agriculture (33%), and construction (33%). 


Texas Manufacturing Activity Rose in September

Texas factory activity continued to increase in September, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, edged down to 19.5 from 20.3 in August, indicating output grew at about the same pace as last month.

Other measures of current manufacturing activity also indicated continued growth. The new orders index increased and the growth rate of orders index ticked down but stayed positive, coming in at 18.6 and 9.7, respectively. The capacity utilization index edged up four points to 15.8, while the shipments index jumped nine points to 27.4.

Perceptions of broader business conditions improved in September. The general business activity index increased to 21.3, its highest reading in seven months. The company outlook index posted its 13th consecutive positive reading, jumping nine points to 25.6. 

U.S. Manufacturers Seeking More Renewable Energy

A new report from David Gardiner and Associates finds that 83% of the largest manufacturing companies with a U.S. footprint have established greenhouse gas reduction targets and 25% of manufacturers have established renewable energy targets. The analysis also finds that enabling access to renewable energy sources is a critical factor for a state’s attractiveness to these manufacturers and other large buyers of renewable energy. To that end, many manufacturers engage directly in energy policy advocacy in the states where they operate. The report finds that manufacturers lead every other sector in state renewable energy policy advocacy, representing nearly 40% of the corporate outreach to policymakers between 2015-2017. 

Harvey Caused Steep Drop in U.S. Industrial Output

Industrial production declined 0.9% in August following six consecutive monthly gains. Hurricane Harvey is estimated to have reduced the rate of change in total output by roughly 0.75%. The index for manufacturing decreased 0.3%; storm-related effects appear to have reduced the rate of change in factory output in August about 0.75%. The manufacturing industries with the largest estimated storm-related effects were petroleum refining, organic chemicals, and plastics materials and resins.

Manufacturing output decreased 0.3% in August. A gain of 0.3% for durables was outweighed by decreases of 0.9% for both nondurables and other manufacturing (publishing and logging). 

Empire State Manufacturing Shows Strong Growth in September

Business activity continued to grow strongly in New York State, according to firms responding to the September 2017 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index held steady at 24.4. The new orders index rose four points to 24.9 and the shipments index climbed four points to 16.2, pointing to ongoing solid gains in orders and shipments. Unfilled orders increased, and delivery times continued to lengthen. Labor market indicators pointed to a modest increase in employment and hours worked. Both input prices and selling prices rose at a faster pace than last month. Indexes assessing the six-month outlook suggested that firms remained optimistic about future conditions. 

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