Last updateThu, 22 Feb 2018 2pm


Second Quarter GDP Growth Highest in Two Years

Real GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.1% in the second quarter of 2017, according to the latest estimate released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 1.2%. With this third estimate for the second quarter, private inventory investment increased more than previously estimated, but the general picture of economic growth remains the same.

The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter reflected an upturn in private inventory investment, an acceleration in personal consumption expenditure, a deceleration in imports and an upturn in federal government spending that were partly offset by a downturn in residential fixed investment, a deceleration in exports and a downturn in state and local government spending. 

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Rose 1.7% in August

New orders for manufactured durable goods in August increased $3.9 billion or 1.7% to $232.8 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up two of the last three months, followed a 6.8% July decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.2%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 2.2%.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods in August, up three of the last four months, increased $0.7 billion or 0.3% to $237.2 billion. This followed a 0.1% July increase. Machinery, up nine of the last ten months, led the increase, $0.3 billion or 1.1% to $31.4 billion. 

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. 



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