Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for January 22, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. EconomyFlagging Consumer ConfidenceFor the last couple of years, the consumer confidence level has been high and, in many respects, higher than would have been expected. The sense has been that consumers pay close attention to only a handful of factors as far as the economy is concerned—jobs, prices and the behavior of ...
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Global CEO Optimism Down Over Political Undertakings

Despite the whirlwind of optimism in 2018, CEOs worldwide aren't nearly as hopeful about their respective business climates, according to a recently released survey by PwC and the World Economic Forum (WEF). More than 1,300 CEOs responded to the global survey, 30% of whom anticipate a decline in global growth over the next year.On Jan. 22, PwC Glob...
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Lower Construction Input Prices Can’t Shake Weakening Economic Growth

December's construction input prices brought some good news to contractors, as Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) reports a 1.7% month-over-month (MoM) decline that was most notable in nonresidential construction pricing. Although contractors' concerns aren't completely diminished, ABC Economist Anirban Basu said in the report that the price...
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Corporate Liquidity Squeeze on Horizon

Corporate liquidity is in for a slight squeeze in the future according to the latest Liquidity-Stress Indicator (LSI) from Moody's Investors Service. The LSI was unchanged in December; however, at 3.7%, it is at its highest reading since May 2017. "We expect slower corporate earnings growth and tighter funding conditions this year to continue to li...
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US Contractors Using Off-Site Construction for Commercial Projects

U.S. contractors in the commercial construction industry are exploring off-site construction as a means to address labor shortages, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences Off-Site Construction Council. Following a 2018 survey, about 54% of respondents said they were utilizing off-site construction, which the council as "the planni...
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China’s Exports and Imports Fall, Dismal Outlook for World Economy

China's exports have fallen, which has raised concerns in the global market. During the month of December exports saw the largest drop in two years, indicating China's economic power is weakening in 2019 with a smaller global demand, according to a recent article by Reuters. Along with this sharp decline, China posted its largest trade surplus with...
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US President Will Not Attend International Business Forum Amid Government Shutdown

U.S. President Donald Trump will be skipping the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, amid the partial government shutdown. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other White House officials may join the forum, which will take place from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25, but the president said he will not be in attendance. This foreshadows t...
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Number of Open Construction Jobs Declines in November

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics wasn't very optimistic when estimating October 2018's construction unemployment rates, which surprised economists with the highest number of open construction jobs in the 18-year history of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). However, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported, such...
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Euro Area Sovereign Outlook Stable to Start 2019

Euro area sovereigns have a stable outlook for 2019 according to a new report from Moody's Investors Service. Economic growth is expected to remain healthy as government debt burdens ease. "While economic growth in the euro area will slow in 2019, at 1.9%, it will remain robust enough to be credit supportive," said Steffen Dyck, a vice president an...
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US Job Numbers in December Outweigh Unemployment

In a flip-flop over prior years, the U.S. is seeing more jobs than unemployed workers throughout the country, recently exceeding the number of added jobs predicted for December. Labor shortages are noticeable in several industries, so businesses are scrambling to devise tactics to increase potential employee interest.MSNBC reported last week a whop...
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Despite Dip in Construction Confidence, There Is Still a Positive Outlook for 2019

Contractors in the construction industry lost confidence during 2018's third quarter, but moving into the near future, many regained a sense of optimism, according to Associate Builders and Contractors' (ABC) latest Construction Confidence Index (CCI).The index claims about 75% of construction firms expect sales will see an uptick through the end o...
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Mall, Shopping Center Vacancies Pave Rocky Path for Retail Sector

Despite the holiday season, December was not welcoming to the retail sector as overall service sector sales plummeted to the lowest mark of the year, according to NACM Economist Chris Kuehl's findings in last month's Credit Managers' Index (CMI). An underlying trend remains unknown, but a recent CNBC report indicates the latest retail pitfalls coul...
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Latest Home Data Shows Spike in Costs, Dip in Pending Sales

U.S. home prices are on the rise according to two separate data releases announced this week. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index reports home price increases in all nine census divisions—a year-over-year jump of 5.5% in October. Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced prices rose 0.3% in October co...
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Credit Managers’ Index Ends 2018 on Sour Note

NACM's Credit Managers' Index, hoping to build momentum from November, closed out 2018 with a slight flop. The December reading slipped 1.6 points back toward its October reading. "On one level, this is disappointing. It would have been nice to see the index continue tracking upwards, but it is important to remember that any reading over 50 suggest...
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Multifamily Housing Starts Create Upswing for Overall US Development

Following October's unanticipated decline in U.S. housing starts, homebuilding saw an upswing in November thanks to substantial gains in multifamily housing construction. Single-family housing starts, however, restrained any further growth, reaching its lowest reading since August 2017.On Dec. 18, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) re...
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Australian Government to Set Aside Millions for Cybersecurity, Faster Payment Times

Although the implementation of enhanced cybersecurity and faster supplier payment solutions come at a hefty cost to small businesses, the Australian government is not shying away from technological advancements after announcing its plans to invest nearly $13 million during its mid-year financial outlook and budget.The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) re...
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Builder Confidence Slips to End 2018

Builder confidence for newly built single-family homes is at its lowest level in more than three years. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) dipped four points to 56 in December, the lowest reading since May 2015; however, confidence is still in positive territory. One of the contributing factors to the D...
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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 to...
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Construction Materials Prices Decline in November

Construction materials prices are on the decline; however, prices are still higher than they were a year ago. Prices fell 1.8% in November according to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), yet materials prices were more than 5% higher than the previous November. "Earlier in 2018, materials prices were racing skyward due to a combination of st...
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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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