07202018Fri
Last updateFri, 20 Jul 2018 5pm

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Beige Book: Manufacturers Concerned Over Trade

According to the Federal Reserve Beige Book, economic activity continued to expand across the U.S. with 10 of the 12 Federal Reserve Districts reporting moderate or modest growth. The outliers were the Dallas District, which reported strong growth driven in part by the energy sector, and the St. Louis District where growth was described as slight. Manufacturers in all districts expressed concern about tariffs and many districts reported higher prices and supply disruptions that they attributed to the new trade policies. 


U.S. Industrial Production Rebounds in June

Industrial production rose 0.6% in June after declining 0.5% in May. For the second quarter as a whole, industrial production advanced at an annual rate of 6.0%, its third consecutive quarterly increase.

Manufacturing output moved up 0.8% in June and increased at an annual rate of 1.9% in the second quarter, about the same pace as in the first quarter. In June, the index for durables advanced 1.6%. Within durables, the rebound of about 8% for motor vehicles and parts was accompanied by increases of 1% or more for wood products, for computer and electronic products, and for aerospace and miscellaneous transportation equipment.  

Empire State Manufacturing Index Down Slightly in July

Business activity continued to grow at a fairly brisk pace in New York State, according to firms responding to the July 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index edged down by over two points to 22.6—still a high level, suggesting a continuation of robust growth.

Manufacturing firms in New York State reported that business activity expanded at about the same brisk pace as in June. Optimism about the six-month outlook slipped this month. 

NFIB: Small Business Optimism Remains High

The Small Business Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Business posted its sixth highest reading in survey history for the month of June, at 107.2, down 0.6 from May. Since December 2016, the Index has averaged an unprecedented 105.4, well above the 45-year average of 98 and rivaling the all-time high of 108.0 in July 1983.

A net 10% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months, down five points but still one of the strongest readings in years. June is the seventh consecutive strong month of reported sales gains. Reports of sales increases were most frequent in manufacturing and the wholesale trades. 

AGC: Tariffs Drive Up Cost of Building Materials

Construction costs accelerated again in June, with steep increases for a wide range of building and road construction materials as tariffs against foreign goods come into effect, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) of new Labor Department data.

The construction economist noted that the producer price index jumped by 20.0% for aluminum mill shapes, 17.4% for copper and brass mill shapes and 12.3% for steel mill products between June 2017 and June 2018. 

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