NEMA's Electroindustry Business Confidence Index (EBCI) for current North American conditions dropped for a third straight month in December, sliding by almost 10 points from a month earlier. At 8 points, the index fell to its lowest level since October 2001. The index is a monthly survey of senior executives at electrical manufacturers published by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va. Any reading under the 50-point break-even mark signals declining market conditions.
In marked contrast, the EBCI for future North American conditions has trended in a positive direction over the past two months. The December reading showed a sharp gain of more than 16 points, lifting the index to a six-month high of 36 points, up from 19.6 points a month ago and 17.5 points in October.
While the index remains firmly in contractionary territory, this sequence of results suggests that survey respondents may be expecting a progressively less severe deterioration in business conditions as the rolling six-month future conditions horizon extends further into 2009. Current conditions indexes for the other three world regions included in the survey were mostly higher in December.
Latin America's current conditions increased to 26.3 points from 22.5 points, a 3.8-point gain, while its future conditions gained an impressive 13.8 points to 28.9 points.
Europe saw a solid increase in current conditions to 20.6 points from 10.5 points, a 10.1-point gain. Future conditions rose from 22.2 points to 33.3 points, an 11.1-point gain.
The Asia-Pacific region saw a modest 5.6-point decline in current conditions, from 21.4 points to 15.8 points and a 0.9-point increase in future conditions from 33.3 points to 34.2 points.