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Electrical Marketing’s Leading Economic Indicators - June 2016

June 24, 2016
Building permits up a little, PMI looks solid, freight up but sluggish, even oil rigs show some life.

Building permits enjoy slight increase in May. Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,138,000. This is 0.7% above the revised April rate of 1,130,000, but 10.1% below the May 2015 estimate of 1,266,000. Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 726,000, 2% below the revised April figure of 741,000.

Most recent data from Purchasing Managers Index looks solid. The May Purchasing Managers Index, published monthly by the Institute for Supply Management, Tempe, Ariz., in its latest Report on Business registered 51.3%, an increase of 0.5 percentage point from the April reading of 50.8%. Any reading above 50% indicates a bullish response from the purchasing managers who responded to the ISM survey.

Oil rig count showing some life. The closely watched Baker Hughes rig count, which provides monthly data on the number of oil & gas rigs operating in North America, was up by 10 rigs to 424. However, the most recent data, published June 17, also shows the severe decline since last year in this market, with the current count still 433 rigs short of where it was out in June 2015.

Cass Freight Index shows some monthly grow but sluggish year-over-year data. The most recent Cass Freight Index, a monthly measure of the levels of shipment activity in terms of volume of shipments and expenditures for freight shipments published by  Cass Information Systems, said, “May freight shipments index rose 1.3% percent from April. This represents the high point so far for 2016, but it was still 5.8% percent below May 2015 and 7.0 percent lower than May 2014.

“This year we have failed to see the robust growth in shipments that we expect to see this time of year. In May, railroad carload shipments and container shipments were up 1.9% and 2.1% respectively. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported that May carloads were 10.3% lower than in the same month in the 2015, while intermodal container shipments were 3.3% percent lower than last year. Truck tonnage continues to slide for both linehaul and spot markets. Port activity improved slightly in May, but not enough to contribute to a great increase in domestic movements.”