Last updateFri, 16 Aug 2019 8pm

Fourth Industrial Revolution Under Way in U.S.

A new survey by PwC and The Manufacturing Institute sees a definitive—and, indeed, inevitable—shift to the “fourth industrial revolution” as companies seek to integrate new technologies into their operations, supply chain, and product portfolio.

Nearly half of manufacturers surveyed reported that they are in the early stages of a smart factory transition (awareness, experimental, and early adoption phases). Manufacturers expect the transition to accelerate—73% are planning to increase their investment in smart factory technology over the next year.

Leading Economic Indicators Up for Third Straight Month

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased by 0.2% in April. The most recent gain was fueled by positive contributions from stock prices and consumer expectations for business conditions. In the six-month period ending in April 2019, the leading economic index increased 0.6% (about a 1.3% annual rate), much slower than the growth of 2.1% (about a 4.3% annual rate) during the previous six months. However, the strengths among the leading indicators became more widespread than weaknesses.

U.S. Industrial Output Down in April

Industrial production fell 0.5% in April, and the rates of change for previous months were revised down on net. Output is now reported to have declined 1.9% at an annual rate in the first quarter.

Manufacturing output declined 0.5% in April after having decreased about 0.4% per month, on average, during the previous three months. In April, the production of durable goods fell almost 1%, but the index for nondurable goods only edged down. Among durables, losses of 2% or more were posted by machinery; electrical equipment, appliances, and components; and motor vehicles and parts.

Tariffs Set for Remaining Chinese Imports

On May 13, the Trump administration announced plans to begin the process of placing an additional ad valorem duty of up to 25% on a fourth tranche of Chinese imports, valued at approximately $300 billion. Combined with three previous rounds of tariffs, the new measures, if implemented, would result in U.S. tariffs on virtually all imports from China.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative released a draft notice and proposed tariff list outlining a process for public comment on its latest tariff proposal. 

Source: Trade and Manufacturing Monitor


U.S. Producer Prices Rise Moderately

The Producer Price Index for final demand rose 0.2% in April, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. Final demand prices advanced 0.6% in March and 0.1% in February. On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index increased 2.2% for the 12 months ended in April.

Leading the April rise in the index for final demand, prices for final demand goods climbed 0.3%. The index for final demand services edged up 0.1%, and prices for final demand construction advanced 1.6%.

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