Construction Confidence into 2020 Looks Optimistic

Confidence among construction contractors did not waiver during the end of 2019 and into the beginning of 2020, according to recent index results released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The index spiked in November then remained steady in December.Several variables remained above the growth expectations threshold in December 2019: sa...
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Trade Negotiations Between US and India Reach First Steps

Following a two-day meeting in India, the U.S. and India concluded ongoing trade talks, which may begin a bilateral U.S.-India trade deal, according to a recent article in Reuters. The White House has not given any details on what the trade agreement may look like.Prior to meeting Feb. 24-25, the two nations negotiated for months on terms related t...
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Coronavirus Begins to Impact Italy

The coronavirus has begun to impact parts of Europe, predominately in Italy. The sixth person infected with the virus has died as of Feb. 24, as the virus begins to infect the economy of European nations. According to a recent article in Reuters, Italian shares fell by 5% out of fear for the future.Since Feb. 21, more than 220 people in Italy have ...
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Coronavirus May Damage Chinese Economy, US Agreements

Despite the continued outbreak of China's coronavirus, the U.S. government still expects China to buy more U.S. goods, as per the trade deal signed in January, according to a recent article in Reuters. The disease will likely cause further damage to the Chinese economy, although the U.S. Treasury said it is still too soon to determine how exactly t...
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Machines Could Replace Millions of Construction Jobs By 2057

Technology implementation is running rampant in many industries but has not yet fully taken hold in the construction sector. A study from the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) shows that may very well change in the next four decades, as machines could replace as many as 2.7 million construction jobs by 2057.Earlier this month, Construction D...
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Retail Sales Improve Slightly in January

Retail and food service sales saw a slight increase in January. The Census Bureau announced Feb. 14, 2020, that sales were up 0.3% from December 2019 and 4.4% from January 2019. Sales between November 2019 and January 2020 were also ahead 4.4% from the same period the previous year. However, retail sales alone were only improved by 0.1% from Decemb...
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Chinese Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus Request Bank Loans Exceeding $8 Billion

With no end in sight, the coronavirus has become problematic for businesses throughout China that remain closed as the virus sweeps across the country—the death toll recently exceeding 1,100. On Feb. 10, Reuters reported more than 300 Chinese companies are hoping to soften the blow from the outbreak by requesting billions of dollars in bank loans.T...
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Construction Employment Thrives in January

Construction employment continued rising in the new year, adding 44,000 net new jobs in January. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry grew nearly 2% year-over-year, exceeding 140,000 jobs.According to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), nonresidential construction employment made up more than half of the gain ...
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ACH Growth Hits 12-Year High

ACH growth is at a 12-year high after huge improvements in 2019. The ACH Network saw nearly 25 billion payments last year, an almost 8% jump from 2018. The total value of the payments was nearly $56 trillion, which is an increase of nearly 9% from the previous year. Business-to-business (B2B) transactions also continued to climb in 2019. B2B paymen...
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Construction Spending Dips in December

Construction spending declined slightly to end 2019. According to the Census Bureau, December spending dipped 0.2% below the revised November estimate. However, construction spending in December was 5% above that of December 2018. "A solid gain in residential spending was not enough to offset a drop in nonresidential," states a release from Wells F...
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China Combats Coronavirus by ‘Supplying Cash to Money Markets’

Since the first reports of the outbreak in January, the coronavirus continues to take a toll on the Chinese economy and, in turn, the global economy. On Feb. 3, The New York Times (NYT) cited statistics from Oxford Economics, predicting China's economic growth to fall from last year's 6.1% to 5.6% in 2020. By all accounts, such a dramatic decline w...
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CMI Begins 2020 with a Bang

The Credit Managers' Index (CMI) is off to an overwhelming start to 2020. While other indices such as the purchasing managers' index are down to begin the new year, the CMI rebounded in January from a down December to reach a nearly three-year high. "Given that credit managers tend to think in the future, this month's good data may be seen as a har...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 29, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy—Durable Goods Orders Surprise The expectation had been there would be a 0.3% decline after a similar decline the month prior. Instead, there was a nice jump of 2.4% in the demand for goods designed to last three or more years. The one caveat to be aware of is that almost all...
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Evolved Email Scam Threatens Companies’ Vendors

Attention all credit professionals! By now, the majority of you are at least familiar with the business email compromise (BEC) scam used by fraudsters to gain access to company information—usually finances—in the guise of an email from a fellow employee, e.g., manager, CEO, etc. However, scammers are no longer just after companies; they after compa...
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Low Mortgage Rates Help Struggling New Home Sales

Low mortgages rates are the only factor holding up the U.S. housing market after reports of declining new single-family home sales in December. On Jan. 27, Reuters reported details from the Commerce Department that showed new homes sales dropped nearly half a percent last month, continuing the consecutive decline that began in October.December's 0....
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Existing-Home Sales Skyrocket in December

Existing-home sales improved to a near two-year high in December. Sales jumped 3.6% from November, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) earlier this week. Total sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops, increased 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.54 million. Sales are up nearly...
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Builder Confidence Holds 20-Year High, Despite January Dip

Following January's slight dip in newly built single-family home builders' confidence, economists are optimistic about future home building gains given the latest readings are at their highest in 20 years. Builder confidence readings in December and January were last seen in July 1999, the latter's score inching one point lower to 75.According to t...
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Housing Starts Hit 13-Year High

Privately-owned housing starts exploded in December to a 13-year high. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Census Bureau, housing starts increased 16.9% in December above November's revised estimate. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,608,000 is nearly 41% better than December 2018. "The big jump in the last month...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 17, 2020

By Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., NACM Economist—Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyWho Has the Leverage?The trade deal signed between the U.S. and China has broken with the usual pattern of trade deals and will likely have an impact on future negotiations between nations. The system established at the end of WWII sought to balance trade talks through the us...
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Nonresidential Construction Employment Ends 2019 on a High Note

The nonresidential construction sector ended 2019 with a bang, adding 20,000 net new jobs—an increase of more than 150,000 jobs (2%) compared to the prior year.In a month-over-month (MoM) analysis by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the data revealed an employment increase of 16,700 jobs last month, most notably in nonresidential specialt...
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