Last updateThu, 23 May 2019 6pm


Durable Goods Orders Up 1.2% in December

New orders for manufactured durable goods in December increased $3.0 billion or 1.2% to $254.4 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced. This increase, up two consecutive months, followed a 1.0% November increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.1%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 1.8%. Transportation equipment, up four of the last five months, led the increase, $2.8 billion or 3.3% to $90.2 billion. 

Leading Economic Indicators Down Slightly Last Month

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. declined 0.1% in January (according to preliminary estimates) to 111.3, following no change in December, and a 0.1% increase in November.

“Based on preliminary data, the U.S. LEI declined very slightly in January and December’s decline was revised up to no change,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of economic research at The Conference Board. “In January, the strengths in the financial components were offset by the weaknesses in the labor market components. The U.S. LEI has now been flat essentially since October 2018. The Conference Board forecasts that U.S. GDP growth will likely decelerate to about 2% by the end of 2019.” 

Small Business Optimism Down a Fifth Straight Month

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index slipped 3.2 points in January, as owners continued hiring and investing, but expressed rising concern about future economic growth. The 101.2 reading, the lowest since the weeks leading up to the 2016 elections, remains well above the historical average of 98, but indicates uncertainty among small business owners due to the 35-day government shutdown and financial market instability. The NFIB Uncertainty Index rose seven points to 86, the fifth highest reading in the survey’s 45-year history. 

Industrial Production Down in January

According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. industrial production decreased 0.6% in January after rising 0.1% in December. Manufacturing output decreased 0.9% in January to a level that was, nonetheless, 2.9% above a year earlier. The output of durable goods moved down 1.7%. Only fabricated metal products and furniture posted gains. 

Global Manufacturing PMI Sinks at Start of 2019

Growth of the global manufacturing sector slowed closer to stagnation in January. At 50.7, the J.P.Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI fell for the ninth straight month to its lowest reading since August 2016.

The U.S. remained one of the stronger performing nations in January, with its PMI rising to buck the slowing trend seen at the global level. Moreover, if U.S. data were excluded from the Global Manufacturing PMI calculation the reading would have been 50.0, a level signaling stagnation. The slowdown in China manufacturing was the main drag, as the China PMI fell to a near three-year low. The euro area and Japan PMIs fell to 50- and 29-month lows respectively.  

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