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Electrical Marketing’s Leading Economic Indicators - December 2018

Dec. 21, 2018
Momentum is still looking pretty solid according to four key indicators.

November building permits show growth. Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in November were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,328,000, +5% above the revised October rate of 1,265,000 and +0.4% above the Nov. 2017 rate of 1,323,000.  The U.S. Census Bureau said single‐family authorizations in November were at a rate of 848,000, +0.1% above the revised October figure of 847,000.

Purchasing Managers Index remains strong in November. The November PMI registered 59.3%, an increase of 1.6 percentage points from the October reading of 57.7%, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Business Survey Committee’s monthly survey of industrial purchasing managers. Any reading over 50 points indicates a bullish purchasing environment.

Conference Board says U.S. economic growth may moderate in mid/late 2019. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased  +0.1% in October to 112.1 (2016 = 100), following a +0.6% increase in September, and a 0.5 percent increase in August. “The U.S. LEI increased slightly in October, and the pace of improvement slowed for the first time since May,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, director of Economic Research and Global Research Chair at The Conference Board. “The index still points to robust economic growth in early 2019, but the rapid pace of growth may already have peaked. While near-term economic growth should remain strong, longer term growth is likely to moderate to about 2.5% by mid to late 2019.”

Dodge Momentum Index increases in November. The Index moved 5.3% higher in November to 159.7 (2000=100) from the revised October reading of 151.7. It’s a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. November’s gain was due to a 9.4% rebound for the commercial component of the Momentum Index. The recent setbacks in the Index were the result of declines in planning for commercial buildings, and while such planning did rebound in November, the level remains below what was reported earlier this year.