Housing is rebounding. Families are shrinking debts. Europe has avoided a financial crackup. And the fiscal cliff deal has removed the most urgent threat to the U.S. economy. So why don't economists foresee stronger growth and hiring in 2013?
U.S. manufacturing grew slightly last month and factory hiring increased. The modest gain suggests the economy entered the new year with some momentum. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose in December to 50.7. That's up from a reading of 49.5 in the November, which was the lowest reading since July 2009, one month after the recession ended.
A healthier economy and more new model introductions should push U.S. auto sales above the 15 million mark this year, predicts an auto industry research firm. The Polk research firm says auto sales should continue to lead the country's economic recovery, rising nearly 7 percent over 2012 to 15.3 million new vehicle registrations.
Fiat says 2012 was the worst year for car sales in Italy since 1979, but that the manufacturer nevertheless managed to slightly increase its share of the national market. Fiat SpA said in a statement Wednesday that Fiat Group's share of the 2012 market increased slightly to 29.6 percent from 29.4 percent in 2011.
The bill Congress approved Tuesday night providing tax relief for most taxpayers also helps wind energy and ethanol producers by extending tax credits designed to encourage continued development. States like Texas, the nation's leading wind energy producer, and Iowa, the leading ethanol maker, should benefit from the incentives.
Congress' excruciating, extraordinary New Year's Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. Passage also lays the groundwork for future battles between the two sides over federal spending and debt.
Boeing Co. said on Wednesday that it has finalized an order for 60 of its planned 737 Max planes, pushing its total for the Max to more than 1,000. The deal, which Boeing said was finalized with leasing company Aviation Capital Group in late December, would be worth $6 billion at list prices. Steep discounts are common on large orders, however.
China's manufacturing grew at its strongest rate in 18 months in December but new exports fell from the previous month due to weak global demand, a survey showed Monday. HSBC Corp. said its monthly purchasing managers' index rose to 51.1 percent on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show expansion. That was up from November's 50.5 and the strongest growth since May 2011.
Weak overall economic growth persisted in the third quarter of 2012, increasing by 2.7 percent, and the sluggish pace characteristic of the current expansion is likely to continue, according to the quarterly Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation U.S. Industrial Outlook (EO-115), a report that analyzes 27 major industries.
Boise-based memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc. has reported a $275 million loss in the company's first quarter — the sixth straight period of financial losses for the company. Company executives on Thursday attributed the loss during the first quarter of fiscal 2013 to declining sales volumes and prices.
Japan's top three automakers saw double-digit falls in their auto production in China on the year in November, hit by flagging sales there amid strained relations between the two countries, their data showed Friday. Toyota Motor Corp.'s production in the country dropped 38.7 percent from a year earlier to 50,528 units, but the decline narrowed compared with last month's 61.1 percent fall.
U.S. companies boosted their orders in November for long-lasting manufactured goods that reflect investment plans. It was the second straight such increase, an encouraging sign for the economy. The Commerce Department said Friday that overall orders for durable goods rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in November over October.
Economic growth in the United States will continue in 2013, say the nation’s purchasing and supply management executives in their December 2012 Semiannual Economic Forecast. Expectations are for a continuation of the economic recovery that began in mid-2009, as indicated in the monthly ISM Report On Business®.
Wind energy advocates are pushing for the credit renewal. The American Wind Energy Association, quoting a study by Navigant Consulting, said a new U.S. manufacturing sector and 37,000 jobs could be lost by the first quarter of 2013 if Congress fails to act.
Moody's Investor Service said Tuesday that it may downgrade Alcoa Inc. because of a nearly 22 percent drop in aluminum prices in the past year. That could put the company's credit ratings in junk territory. The ratings agency pegs Alcoa's senior unsecured rating at "Baa3," the lowest investment-grade rating. Its review affects about $8.6 billion of debt.
GM shares jumped 9 percent in premarket trading on news that it will shed the stigma of being partly owned by the government within the next 15 months. The automaker will buy back 200 million shares of its stock from the U.S. Treasury for $27.50 apiece, or $5.5 billion. And the government, in turn, plans to sell its 300 million shares on the open market starting in January, and be completely removed by early 2014 or sooner.
The FMA can’t predict how many conveyors are going to be sold in 2013, but we can talk about capital expenditures for the metal forming and fabricating machine tools used to produce equipment essential to the food industry. The good news is that investments are increasing across the board. That translates to more efficient production of the equipment that creates efficiencies for food production.
Industrial metals prices fell Monday after manufacturing slowed in the New York area this month, reflecting a sluggish trend across the nation. Copper, silver, platinum and palladium each fell less than 1 percent. The Federal Reserve's Empire State Manufacturing Survey found that general business conditions declined in December for a fifth consecutive month.
GT Advanced Technologies Inc.'s shares sank Tuesday after the solar manufacturing company said tough market conditions will weigh heavily on its fourth-quarter and annual earnings. And next year doesn't look any better. The Nashua, N.H., company expects a loss of 5 to 10 cents per share on an adjusted basis for the quarter ending Dec. 31.
Apple said Monday that it sold more than 2 million iPhone 5s in China in their first three days of availability, setting a record for that market. The iPhone 5, which launched in China on Friday, will be available in more than 100 countries by the end of December.
There is a lot of buzz about the manufacturing industry and where it seems to be headed in the future. One source says that the skills gap is so great that growth is impossible. Another says that manufacturing’s comeback is not so very far off in the future. Manufacturers wish they could just know the answers so they can make the decisions to drive their business into the next year and beyond.
Japanese manufacturers are growing increasingly pessimistic, according to a survey released Friday that added to gloom over the economic outlook ahead of Sunday's parliamentary election. The Bank of Japan's "tankan" index for the December quarter slumped to minus 12 from minus 3 in the previous quarter, a result that was much worse than expected. A reading below zero means pessimistic views outnumber optimists.
China's manufacturing activity rose to a 14-month high in December, adding to signs the world's second-largest economy is recovering, but export orders weakened, a survey showed Friday. HSBC Corp. said the preliminary version of its monthly purchasing managers' index rose to 50.9 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 represent expanding activity. That was up from November's 50.5.
U.S. factories rebounded in November from Superstorm Sandy, boosting production of cars, equipment and appliances. The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory output increased 1.1 percent in November from October. That offset a 1 percent decline in the previous, which was blamed on the storm.
Volkswagen AG says group sales through the first 11 months of 2012 have already surpassed last year's record full-year result as deliveries outside western Europe more than offset declines in the debt-troubled region. Europe's largest automaker said Friday it sold 8.29 million vehicles from January through November, up 10.4 percent over the same period last year.