Fleet Management

Economic Watch: Construction Spending and Manufacturing Growing, Consumer Sentiment High

July 01, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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Overall construction spending in the United States during May rebounded sharply from the month before.

A new U.S. Commerce Department report shows a 0.5% hike to an annual rate of $874.9 billion, following a downwardly revised increase of 0.1% in April from March.

Helping to boost May’s performance was a 1.8% uptick in spending on public construction projects, the biggest increase in nearly a year and putting it at its highest level since last November.

Spending on residential construction projects in May increased to its highest level since October 2008 while non-residential private projects fell 1.4% after three straight monthly gain.

Meantime, a separate report also released on Monday about the U.S. manufacturing sector shows it expanded in June following a one month contraction.

The Institute of Supply Management index registered 50.9%, up from 49% in May, the fifth expansion in the past six months.

The New Orders Index increased in June by 3.1 percentage points to 51.9%, and the Production Index increased by 4.8 percentage points to 53.4%. The Employment Index registered 48.7%, a decrease of 1.4 percentage points compared to May's reading of 50.1%. Manufacturing employment contracted for the first time since September 2009, when the index registered 47.8%.

A reading above 50% indicates expansion while a one below 50 means contraction.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 12 are reporting growth in June.

These follow a report last week showing U.S. consumer confidence in June slipped, but still remains near a six-year high.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading was 84.1 points, just slightly below a near six-year high of 84.5 in May, but higher than the preliminary reading of 82.7 for June.

“Consumers now believe the recovery has achieved an upward momentum that will not be easily reversed,” says Richard Curtin surveys of consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin. “To be sure, few consumers expect the economy to post robust gains or think the unemployment rate will drastically shrink during the year ahead. Nonetheless, consumers anticipate continued slow economic progress.”

He says gains in spending during the balance of 2013 can be expected to be more heavily concentrated than usual among upper income households, with the housing market serving as the bellwether industry.

“These prospects reflect a new type of economic revival, sparked by increases in wealth rather than by gains in jobs and wages,” says Curtain.

The survey also found the fewest consumers in 10 years thought it was a bad time to buy a home and the most consumers since 2006 thought home selling conditions were favorable.

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