Today’s trend of Midwest manufacturing declining is due to a triple hit: a Chinese ordering slowdown, a languishing European economy, and the domestic U.S. fiscal direction being up in the air with the presidential election. As a result, it’s no surprise that the ability to sell and grow the movement of manufactured goods is suffering, especially on international markets.
Most major automakers reported sales increases in October despite losing at least three days of business to the punishing rain and wind from Superstorm Sandy. Toyota said its sales rose almost 16 percent for the month, while Volkswagen reported another strong month with sales up 22 percent. Chrysler sales rose 10 percent, General Motors was up 5 percent and Ford rose slightly.
Chrysler had its best October in five years as sales for the month rose 10 percent despite Superstorm Sandy washing out three days of business on the East Coast. The company said Thursday that it sold 126,000 cars and trucks for the month, led by the Ram pickup, which was up 20 percent, and the Dodge Caravan minivan, which saw sales rise 49 percent.
Fiat Industrial SpA, the Italian maker of trucks, farming and construction equipment, reported a 30 percent increase in third-quarter earnings Wednesday on "robust" sales of tractors and farm combines. Net profit was €260 million ($337 million) in the quarter ending Sept. 30, up from €182 million last year. Revenues were €6.3 billion ($8.2 billion).
Mazda Motor Corp. says it has shaken off a long spell of losses, turning a 12.2 billion yen ($153.3 million) profit in the July-September quarter, though it revised downward its sales forecast for the year. The Hiroshima-based automaker's profit for the quarter compared with a 14.4 billion yen loss a year earlier. Mazda said its net profit for the first half of the fiscal year was 5.7 billion yen ($71.6 million).
Unemployment rates fell in nearly all large U.S. cities in September from August, a sign that recent jobs gains have been widespread. The Labor Department said Tuesday that rates declined in 355 of the 372 metro areas, the most since April. The report also shows that nearly half of cities now have unemployment rates below 7 percent.
A turnaround in South America and a rosier outlook in Europe helped push General Motors shares up in premarket trading Wednesday, even though the company's third-quarter net profit fell 14 percent. GM said it earned $1.48 billion from July through September, down from $1.73 billion a year earlier, as European pretax losses widened and North American profits fell.
Auto parts and building equipment maker Johnson Controls Inc. said Tuesday that it posted an $8 million fiscal fourth-quarter loss, hurt by costs of restructuring its business and a change in how it accounts for retirees' benefits. Johnson Controls said it expects softening global demand and changes in currency exchange rates will continue to limit its growth this year.
U.S Steel doubled its third-quarter net income as a tax benefit helped balance pressure from price decreases and a challenging global economy. The manufacturer said Tuesday that it earned $44 million, or 28 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That compares with $22 million, or 15 cents per share, a year ago.
Airlines have canceled thousands of flights, stranding travelers around the globe. Insurers are bracing for possible damages of $5 billion. Retailers face shrunken sales. The economic impact could be more severe if the storm damages a port or a major manufacturing facility such as an oil refinery, Zandi noted.
Ford's third-quarter profit eased 1 percent to $1.63 billion as European losses swamped record North American profits. Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its per-share net income was 41 cents, unchanged from the July-September period a year earlier. Before special items, including severance payouts, it earned 40 cents, beating Wall Street's forecast of 30 cents, according to analysts polled by FactSet.
Ro Khanna spent two years as deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he worked with the country’s most influential labor leaders to rebuild the nation’s manufacturing sector and increase America’s exports. He recently discussed what manufacturers can learn from the aerospace industry, why Solyndra is not a U.S. solar manufacturing failure, and what he sees for the future of American manufacturing.
Strong U.S. sales powered Chrysler to a healthy third-quarter profit. The company reported net income of $381 million, up 80 percent from $212 million a year earlier. The profit was due mainly to a 13-percent sales increase in the U.S., where Chrysler does three quarters of its business. The company sold nearly 417,000 cars and trucks in the U.S. under the Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Chrysler brands.
Honda's quarterly profit surged 36 percent as Japanese automakers bounced back from last year's tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan, but the company lowered its annual forecasts Monday because of a sales plunge in China. Honda Motor Co. raked in an 82.2 billion yen ($1 billion) net profit for the July-September quarter. Sales jumped 20 percent to 2.27 trillion yen.
Toyota is shrugging off a sales plunge in China set off by a territorial dispute and says it is headed to a record year on the back of strong growth in the rest of Asia and the U.S. Toyota Motor Corp. Executive VP Funo acknowledged that achieving the company's target of 9.76M vehicle sales this year will be harder because of the problems in China.
Despite continued uncertainty about the prospects of both the U.S. and global economies, the majority of U.S. industrial manufacturers remain positive regarding the overall revenue outlook for the next 12 months, according to the Q3 2012 Manufacturing Barometer released today by PwC US.
Toyota has widened its global sales lead over General Motors after bouncing back from a series of natural disasters. The company said Friday it sold 7.4 million vehicles globally in the first nine months of this year — 450,000 more than General Motors. While Toyota's sales rose 28 percent in that period, GM's rose 2.5 percent, to 6.95 million cars and light-duty trucks.
The price of copper has dropped after unimpressive home sales and orders for long-lasting goods failed to ease questions about demand for the metal. Copper for December delivery dropped 1.75 cents Thursday to finish at $3.5505 per pound. It's the sixth consecutive day that the price has fallen for the metal used in everything from construction to consumer cookware.
Auto parts maker Dana Holding Corp. said Friday that its third-quarter net income sank by more than half, hurt by soft demand from North American commercial vehicle makers and South America. The company cut its full year guidance, citing expectations of further reductions in North American commercial vehicle production, along with weaker construction demand in Europe.
The U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster 2 percent annual rate from July through September, buoyed by more spending by consumers and the federal government. Growth accelerated from the 1.3 percent rate in the April-June quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday.
German automaker Volkswagen AG saw net profit rise 58 percent in the third quarter thanks to an accounting boost from its takeover of Porsche. Operating earnings excluding the merger effects fell, however, and the company cautioned about an uncertain economic environment for the rest of the year.
Ford pressed ahead Thursday with its plan to slash production in Europe, announcing another plant closure and 1,500 more job cuts, as it warned that annual losses in the region will exceed $1.5B this year and next. Ford is struggling in Europe, like many major carmakers, because there are too many plants, labor costs are relatively high, and demand for cars is sliding due to the economic crisis.
Hyundai Motor Co. suffered a fall in third-quarter profit from the previous quarter after strikes dented vehicle production, but its stock jumped Thursday after the carmaker said annual output would exceed forecasts. South Korea's largest automaker estimated that its global vehicle production in the final three months of this year would reach 1.2 million vehicles, including 540,000 vehicles at factories in South Korea.
The extent of the European car industry's troubles was laid bare when France's government tossed a financial lifeline to the continent's No. 2 automaker, Peugeot Citroen, and Ford said it would shut a Belgium plant, cutting 9,500 jobs. Experts say France's $9.1 billion bailout, a three-year loan guarantee, represents a desperate attempt to avoid the sort of layoffs that companies like Ford are slowly accepting as inevitable.
General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt says overall economic trends continue to be positive, but business is volatile in the aftermath of the recession. Immelt appeared on CNBC Wednesday in a joint interview carried live with investor Warren Buffett.