Last updateMon, 25 Mar 2019 8pm


China Factory Activity Shrank for First Time in Over Two Years

In December, factory activity in China contracted for the first time since 2016, “highlighting the challenges facing Beijing as it seeks to end a bruising trade war with Washington and reduce the risk of a sharper economic slowdown in 2019,” Reuters reports.

“The increasing strain on factories signals a continued loss of momentum in China, adding to worries about softening global growth, especially if the Sino-U.S. dispute drags on.” 

Texas Manufacturing Expands Modestly, Outlook Worsens

Texas factory activity continued to expand rather modestly in December, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, inched down one point to 7.3. Perceptions of broader business conditions turned slightly negative in December.

Other indexes of manufacturing activity also suggested modest growth in December, although demand growth picked up a bit. The capacity utilization index fell from 9.4 to 7.6, and the shipments index dipped to 6.1. Meanwhile, the new orders index moved up five points to 14.4, and the growth rate of new orders index edged up to 5.8. 

Durable Goods Orders Back Up in November

New orders for manufactured durable goods in November increased $1.9 billion or 0.8% to $250.8 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up following two consecutive monthly decreases, followed a 4.3% October decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.3%. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 0.1%. Transportation equipment, up three of the last four months, drove the increase, $2.5 billion or 2.9% to $87.0 billion. 

NAM: 2018 is Manufacturers’ Most Optimistic Year

Manufacturers continued to report strong growth in activity, with the sector remaining one of the brightest spots in the economy. In the latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), 88.7% of respondents felt either somewhat or very positive about their own company’s outlook, down from 92.5% in the third quarter. While that represents the second straight easing in confidence from the all-time high reading in the second quarter (95.1%), the four-quarter annual average, which reaches back to when congressional passage of tax reform appeared increasingly likely, shows that manufacturers’ optimism for 2018 reached the highest level on record in the 20-year history of the survey. On average this year, 92.4% of manufacturers surveyed reported a positive outlook for their companies (surpassing the 2017 average of 91.8%). 

Empire State Manufacturing Index Falls to 19 Month Low

Manufacturing firms in New York State reported that business activity continued to expand, though growth was noticeably slower than in recent months. The general business conditions index fell twelve points to 10.9. The share of respondents reporting that conditions had improved over the month dropped to 30%, an 11% decline from November, while 19% of respondents reported that conditions had worsened. 

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