Last updateThu, 19 Jul 2018 1am


Factory Goods Orders Rose 1.2% in February

New orders for manufactured goods in February, up six of the last seven months, increased $6.0 billion or 1.2% to $498.0 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reports. This followed a 1.3% January decrease. Shipments, up fourteen of the last fifteen months, increased $1.0 billion or 0.2% to $500.5 billion. This followed a 0.7% January increase. Unfilled orders, up five of the last six months, increased $1.9 billion or 0.2% to $1,142.8 billion. This followed a 0.3% January decrease. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.49, down from 6.52 in January. Inventories, up fifteen of the last sixteen months, increased $2.3 billion or 0.3% to $675.2 billion. This followed a 0.4% January increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.35, unchanged from January. 

Mid-America Economy Ends First Quarter Strong

The March 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 strong 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 robust 62.1 from February’s strong 59.7. This is the 16th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0 and is the highest reading since June of last year, pointing to improving growth for the region over the next three to six months. 

ISM Data Shows Solid Factory Growth in March

Manufacturing expanded in March as the PMI registered 59.3%, a decrease of 1.5% from the February reading of 60.8%. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.

“This indicates strong growth in manufacturing for the 19th consecutive month, led by continued expansion in new orders, production activity, employment and inventories, with suppliers continuing to struggle delivering to demand,” says Timothy R. Fiore of the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). 

Consumer Confidence Index Declined in March

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in March, following an increase in February. The Index now stands at 127.7, down from 130.0 in February. The Present Situation Index decreased from 161.2 to 159.9, while the Expectations Index declined from 109.2 last month to 106.2 this month.

“Consumer confidence declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with business conditions the primary reason for the moderation. Consumers’ short-term expectations also declined, including their outlook for the stock market, but overall expectations remain quite favorable. Despite the modest retreat in confidence, index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead.” 

U.S. Economy Grew 2.9% in Fourth Quarter

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the latest estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.2%.

The increase in GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, residential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and federal government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased. 

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