The monthly business conditions index tracked by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, VA, jumped to its highest level in nearly four years as industry outlooks improved despite uncertainty about the direction of policy choices in Washington.
NEMA’s Electroindustry Business Conditions Index (EBCI) posted a reading of 72.2, with most of the movement coming from a decline in the number of respondents reporting unchanged conditions. Only 22% of panelists saw conditions unchanged in January versus 44% in the previous month’s survey. The survey saw a 6 point increase in those seeing worse conditions, but 61% registered better conditions now compared to 44% in December.
The survey’s measure of the intensity of change in electroindustry business conditions continued to move further into positive territory, as the mean rating increased from +0.4 in December to +0.6 this month. Even the median measure, usually stuck on 0, increased to 1. Panelists are asked to report intensity of change on a scale ranging from –5 (deteriorated significantly) through 0 (unchanged) to +5 (improved significantly).
Optimism for 6 months out was unblemished by even one respondent who expected worse conditions. In December, 6% had expressed misgivings. Combining the absence of expectations for worse conditions with 11% fewer responses foreseeing unchanged conditions boosted the future index to a near-record high of 91.7, NEMA said.