Last updateFri, 15 Dec 2017 3pm


U.S. Factory Orders Down Slightly in October

New orders for manufactured goods in October, down following two consecutive monthly increases, decreased $0.3 billion or 0.1% to $479.6 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported. This followed a 1.7% September increase. Shipments, up ten of the last eleven months, increased $2.7 billion or 0.6% to $484.2 billion. This followed a 1.1% September increase. Unfilled orders, down three of the last four months, decreased $0.2 billion or virtually unchanged to $1,135.1 billion. This followed a 0.3% September increase. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.68, unchanged from September. Inventories, up eleven of the last twelve months, increased $1.2 billion or 0.2% to $661.6 billion. This followed a 0.6% September increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.37, unchanged from September. 

MAPI Forecasts a Moderate Manufacturing Outlook

The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Foundation has released its fourth quarter forecast for 2017. MAPI currently projects that U.S. GDP growth will average 2.1% between 2017 and 2021, slightly slower than the 2.2% average for the 2017-2020 period projected in a September report. The acceleration in global economic growth that began in late 2016 looks increasingly sustainable. A marked improvement in economic activity is becoming apparent in regions that matter to U.S. manufacturing prospects, including East Asia, the Eurozone, and Canada. This report offers a range of scenarios for U.S. manufacturing growth through 2021 of between 1.2 % and 1.8 %. 

Fed Beige Book: Manufacturers Continue to Expect Growth

Economic activity continued to increase at a modest to moderate pace in October and mid-November, according to anecdotal reports from contacts across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. On balance, manufacturing activity continued at a modest pace of growth, but signs of a slowdown emerged. Firms reporting increases in new orders and shipments fell compared with the prior period. Generally, manufacturing contacts continued to expect growth over the next six months.

The makers of paper products, chemicals, primary metal products, fabricated metal products, and industrial machinery continued to note gains in new orders and shipments; firms in the lumber and electronic equipment sectors reported declines in activity. 

Third Quarter GDP Growth Revised Upward to 3.3%

The U.S. GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.3% in the third quarter of 2017, according to the newest estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, up from 3.0% in the initial estimate. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 3.1%.

With this second estimate for the third quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains the same; nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and private inventory investment were revised up from the prior estimate. 

Consumer Confidence at Highest Level Since 2000

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had improved in October, increased further in November. The Index now stands at 129.5 (1985=100), up from 126.2 in October. The Present Situation Index increased from 152.0 to 153.9, while the Expectations Index rose from 109.0 last month to 113.3.

“Consumer confidence increased for a fifth consecutive month and remains at a 17-year high (Nov. 2000, 132.6),” said The Conference Board’s Lynn Franco. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions improved moderately, while their expectations regarding the short-term outlook improved more so, driven primarily by optimism of further improvements in the labor market. Consumers are entering the holiday season in very high spirits and foresee the economy expanding at a healthy pace into the early months of 2018.” 

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