Holiday Spending Up, Despite Lowered Economic Optimism

Holiday spending this shopping season is exceeding expectations, so much so that Americans are spending well above last year's average. CNBC's All-America Economic Survey, conducted on a quarterly basis, saw a spending surge in the final quarter of 2018 to an average of more than $1,100 compared to last year's average of just over $900. According t...
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US Announces Deadline on Chinese Trade Talks

A trade truce is underway between the U.S. and China, but it is only temporary as the U.S. administration announces a March deadline that will determine the implementation of tariffs. According to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the two countries must reach a deal by Mar. 1; otherwise, the 10% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods w...
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October New Home Sales Pace Hits Two-Year Low

With housing affordability squandering buyer interest, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau saw new single-family home sales take a seasonal dive in October. Sales were up nearly 3% from December 2017; however, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported the seasonally adjusted annual rate dr...
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US Construction Unemployment Rates Historically Low in 22 States for October

Warmer temperatures in the east and hurricane recovery efforts are sustaining employment rates in the construction industry, where Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) said unemployment rates dropped across 45 states year-over-year (YOY). According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the not-seasonally adjusted (NSA) national construction...
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Big Production, Workforce Changes Coming to General Motors

Investors in the automotive industry will want to pay attention to the latest move by General Motors Co. after the U.S. No. 1 carmaker announced Nov. 26 its plans to transition from the traditional gas-powered vehicles to electric and autonomous vehicles. The decision will have a direct impact on the company's workforce in North America. According ...
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US Bankruptcy Court Approves Sears’ Decision to ‘Stay in Business, Sell Itself’

Unlike the Chapter 11 bankruptcy whirlwind that struck Toys R Us more than a year ago, Sears is finding success in its Ch. 11 filing after the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the department store's plan to "stay in business and sell itself." The announcement was made about a month after Sears filed for Ch. 11 to the dismay of some credit managing bu...
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Rising Interest Rates, Home Prices Bring Housing Affordability to 10-Year Low

Housing affordability in the U.S. continues to turn heads as the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) revealed a decade-long low in the third quarter of 2018. Economists say rising interest rates and home prices as well as the ongoing labor shortages are to blame. "Builders are increasingly...
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Chinese Exports, Imports Boom in October, Despite US Trade War

The U.S.-China trade debacle has yet to cease, but according to a CNBC report on Nov. 1, Chinese exports and imports flourished in October, reaching a trade surplus of $31.78 billion with the U.S. Despite economists' predictions of an overall $35 billion trade surplus, the country's General Administration of Customs reported it was nearly $1 billio...
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International Monetary Fund, World Bank Bring Global Financial System Risks to Light

  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are gathering this week to discuss the state of the global financial system, which has many worried because of emerging markets and heightened trade tensions. The meetings are held in Bali and include a review of current risks to the world's financial well-being. On Oct. 10, Reuters re...
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September’s Strong Service Sector Hits 21-Year High

September was good to the U.S. service sector, where activity reached a two-decade high as the economy begins the fourth quarter. The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) non-manufacturing activity index indicated more hiring was behind last month's results that were last seen in August 1997. Following Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's re...
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Retailers Struggling to Hire for the Holidays

The holiday shopping season is approaching quickly as shoppers will soon begin flocking to department stores and small businesses in the coming months. A busy shopping season calls for more retail hiring; however, CNBC reports not all retailers will successfully fill their vacant positions. Demands for higher wages lure some employees away from low...
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‘To No One’s Surprise,’ Fed Hikes Interest Rates

As predicted, the Federal Reserve followed through with its plan to hike interest rates on Sept. 26, increasing rates by a quarter point, while anticipating economic growth for the remainder of 2018 and into next year. The hike was of no surprised to anyone, said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., who said the latest hike marks the eighth increase ...
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Food, Chemical Products Amid Latest Chinese Retaliatory Tariffs on US

Tackling trade talks remains difficult for the U.S. and China as more of President Donald Trump's tariffs go into effect today, placing a 10% tax on $200 billion of Chinese products such as furniture and appliances. According to CNBC, the tariff is expected to increase to 25% by the end of the year. This latest imposition was met with retaliation b...
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Consumer Demand, Not Trade War, Among CFOs Top Concerns

Risk assessment is part of the daily grind for any business, so when the U.S. stirred up trade controversies with other countries, economists saw American businesses' concerns rise. While many believed the trade war was among these worries, a new CNBC survey suggests there are worse fears in the business community, specifically consumer demand. On ...
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Little Economic Impact Expected From Hurricane Florence

Natural disasters take a physical toll on impacted communities, the most recent example being the severe flooding from Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. With destruction and devastation comes economic hardship, but according to Moody's Analytics, Hurricane Florence is expected to have a minimal impact on the U.S. economy. The latest hurricane h...
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Lumber Prices Rise as Hurricane Florence Nears East Coast

As the East Coast prepares for Hurricane Florence to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, the construction industry is already seeing the storm's costly effects through lumber prices. According to Prosales magazine, the impending hurricane and any that follow are expected to bring a 10% lumber price hike that may last roughly two months. On...
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E-Invoicing Ushers Businesses Toward More Tech Implementation

Knowing when and where to start implementing new technology is tricky for any business. Costs and complications alone often steer businesses away from the latest advancements, but some experts believe electronic invoicing adoption is one of the best stepping stones for a gradual transition into 21st century technology. According to professional ser...
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Be Extra Cautious When Lending to Micro-SMBs

When credit managers are extending lines of credit, the size of their customers' business is a factor to weigh in the decision-making process. Just because a business is small doesn't mean it will never get credit, but both parties have to remain more alert. On Aug. 27, global fintech company Tide explained how micro-SMBs (small- to medium-sized bu...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for August 24, 2018

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Lining Up Behind the Chair For the most part, the Fed is a body that rules by consensus. The members of the Open Market Committee are the permanent members of the Board of Governors plus four of the regional heads of the Fed that rotate on and off the FOMC on an annual basis. The Chair represents the views of th...
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Simulation Tech Enhances Decision-Making Process for Infrastructure Projects

In some way, shape or form, artificial intelligence (AI) is making a name for itself in the business community. The construction industry is no exception as recently seen in the United Kingdom, where a $4.5 million investment will fund a software company's latest technological endeavor to create real-world simulations of infrastructure projects. St...
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