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NEMA’s EBCI Future Conditions Expectations Set Record in January with 93.3-Point Reading

Feb. 12, 2021

The re-imposition of some business restrictions in response to an early-January surge in COVID-19 related hospitalizations, combined with a slower-than-expected vaccine rollout, reined in the panel’s expectations, which otherwise appeared poised to charge ahead. Alongside a slight reduction in the share of respondents reporting worse conditions, a majority of respondents reported an unchanged business environment in January, pushing the current conditions component to 60 points, a nearly imperceptible increase over December’s 57.7 reading.

The ElectroIndustry Business Conditions Index (EBCI) is a monthly survey of senior executives at electrical manufacturers published by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, VA. Any score over the 50-point level indicates a greater number of panelists see conditions improving than see them deteriorating.

Bearing in mind that the diffusion methodology underlying the EBCI measures the breadth of business confidence rather than its magnitude, expectations for improved conditions in six months were held nearly universally among our panelists as the future conditions index hit an all-time high reading of 93.3 points in January, compared to an already robust 84.6 points from last month. None of the respondents indicated worse conditions ahead. Commentary largely suggested that in six months the economy will be reaping the benefits of a receding pandemic and concomitant stability.