07192018Thu
Last updateThu, 19 Jul 2018 4pm

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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. 


Texas Manufacturing Expansion Continues but at Slower Pace

Texas factory activity continued to expand in March, albeit at a markedly slower pace than last month, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 15 points to 12.7, signaling a deceleration in output growth.

Other indexes of manufacturing activity also remained positive but posted double-digit declines in March. The new orders and growth rate of orders indexes fell to 8.3 and 3.8, respectively. The capacity utilization index dropped to 9.6, and the shipments index plunged 23 points to 9.3. Although these indexes are down notably from their February readings, they remain well above their post-recession averages. 

Durable Goods Orders Up 3.1% in February

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $7.4 billion or 3.1% to $247.7 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up three of the last four months, followed a 3.5% January decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 1.2%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 2.5%. Transportation equipment, also up three of the last four months, led the increase, $5.5 billion or 7.1% to $83.5 billion.

In the past 12 months, durable goods orders are up 6.9% and core capital goods are up 8.0% in that same span. 

U.S. Manufacturers’ Electricity Use Has Declined

Overall electricity use in U.S. manufacturing has declined in recent years, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Many manufacturing establishments have the option of generating their own electricity in addition to pulling directly from the electric grid to run their processes. Most operators get their electricity from grid purchases. From 2006 through 2016, the manufacturing sector purchased 87% to 89% of their electricity from the grid and generated the remaining 11% to 13% onsite.

Highly efficient industrial onsite generation from combined heat and power (CHP) technology offers the potential for increased system resiliency and operational benefits, but it is concentrated in just a few manufacturing groups. In 2016, the entire manufacturing sector generated 110 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity, driven in part by federal tax incentives and state initiatives. About 97% of this electricity came from five manufacturing groups: chemicals, paper, petroleum and coal, primary metals and food. 

U.S. Business Borrowing Rose 31% in February

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for February was $7.7 billion, up 31% year-over-year from new business volume in February 2017. Volume was up 13% month-to-month from $6.9 billion in January. Year to date, cumulative new business volume was up 20% compared to 2017. 

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