Second Quarter Concludes on Modest Growth Story
At 50.9 the ISM reading reinforces the theme of modest, subpar growth
that has been the expectation for this year. This economic expansion
continues, but without the boom typical of the early recoveries of 2004 and
2009 (top graph) for example.
In June, eleven of fourteen industries recorded growth in production
including electrical equipment, appliances, furniture, fabricated metals and
computers/electronics. These data are an indication that the factory sector
will continue its modest growth path, but there is no suggestion of a shift
from slow growth into a somewhat faster pace of expansion; we support the
case for growth but are not yet convinced that business spending and
industrial production are poised to take off.
New Orders and Export Orders Both Still Positive
For June, the gain in new orders and export orders has been reassuring to
our growth outlook. New orders rose to 51.9 from 48.8 and are once again
in expansion mode (middle graph). Eleven of sixteen industries reported a
gain in orders, including paper, machinery, fabricated metals and electrical
equipment. Export orders, meanwhile, rose for the seventh consecutive
month with a June reading at 54.5. Seven of nine industries reported a gain
in export orders including paper, primary metals electrical equipment and
computers and electronics.
Despite the concerns of fiscal sequestration, weakness in emerging markets
and continued recession in Europe, firms are seeing modest gains in both
domestic and export orders and, since orders are a leading economic
indicator, this suggests the outlook remains for modest growth going
forward into the second half of this year.
Input Price Pressures–Temporary Relief for Profits?
The prices paid component rose back above the 50 breakeven level in June
after a dip below 50 in May. This index had been above 50 each month of
the year except for May (bottom graph). Of eighteen industries,
nine reported higher input prices, thereby suggesting that there are some
modest input cost pressures in certain industries. Higher input prices were
reported for paper, plastics, textiles and computer/electronics.
A modest amount of commodity prices have trended higher in recent
months and these include caustic soda, corrugated boxes (used in shipping)
and lumber. These price increases will put some upward pressure on PPI
inflation in the coming months and given only modest increases in
consumer prices, suggest profit pressures for many companies, although
certainly more modest than we would have projected based on historical
patterns in earlier economic expansions.