West Coast Imports Fall In February

Ports on the West Coast of the U.S. saw the "busiest seven months in history," according to  Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka, which then ended in February. A recent article by  ​Supply Chain Dive ​ indicates much of the sudden dip in imports is due to 2018's global trade chaos, citing primarily the U.S.-China trade wars...
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Strategic Global Intelligence Brief for March 22, 2019

Short Items of Interest—U.S. Economy Employment Data Remains Strong By almost any measure, the job market has been staying strong. There was another week of reduced jobless claims, which tends to offset the fears regarding the slower than expected job growth reported last week. The job market is still better defined by the shortages that persist th...
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Existing-Home Sales Jump in February

Existing-home sales are back on track following a down start to 2019. Sales in February recorded their best month-over-month gain since December 2015, states the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Total existing-home sales were up 11.8% from January. "A powerful combination of lower mortgage rates, more inventory, rising income and higher cons...
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Global Economic Growth Continues to Decline, No Recession in Sight

With the first quarter of 2019 nearly completed, the global economic outlook for the rest of the year looks bleak, yet a recession is not on its way, according to Fitch Ratings. Much of the slowdown in growth comes from the eurozone and China and from the U.S.-China trade wars. The global growth forecast continues to decline, with Fitch downgrading...
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Grounding Boeing’s 737 Max to Have Little Impact on Airlines’ Credit

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump grounded all of Boeing's 737 Max (Max) aircraft after a fatal crash in Ethiopia—the second Max crash in the past six months. Today, credit professionals at Fitch Ratings say this decision won't have "a new-term negative effect" on airlines' credit but could potentially cause problems over time. According to Fi...
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Gains in Construction Input Prices Unlikely in Coming Months

The first two months of 2019 proved kind to the construction industry, where input prices increased monthly and annually. However, if the predictions of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu are true, the sector will experience different results in the coming months. Construction input prices have dwindled over the ...
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Public Construction Spending Up, Private Spending Down

According to the Commerce Department, construction spending rose by 1.3%, the largest increase since last April. Following December 2018's 0.8% drop, most of the spending comes from companies investing in public projects. Looking at spending on a year-over-year basis, there was a 0.3% increase. With much of the spending in public projects, investme...
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Ongoing Accounting, Auditing Scandals Bring Forth New UK Regulator

Accounting scandals are becoming a real problem in the United Kingdom, and its government is looking to do something about it. The country's Financial Reporting Council's (FRC) inability to properly regulate accounting and audit firms has led to the creation of the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA), according to The Wall Street Journ...
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Imports Fall to Annual Lows Amid Uncertain Market

The combination of a hold on the Chinese and U.S. tariff deals and a slower season for business led U.S. imports to the lowest numbers seen since about a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. In January, just under two million TEUs came through U.S. ports, which is down nearly 4% from December 2018, and...
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Builders Gain Hope After Housing Starts Rebound in January

Housing starts rebounded significantly in January by nearly 19%—welcome news to builders following the 12% decline at the end of 2018. According to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department, builders would begin more than 1.2 million housing units in the next year if they maintained this soaring percentage. Single-family housin...
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UK Firms Hit With Fraud

British business owners have more than just Brexit to worry about. According to research from Santander Business, half of business owners and senior managers are vulnerable to invoice fraud, states LondonlovesBusiness. "By not checking invoice details carefully before making an online payment, small businesses are leaving themselves dangerously exp...
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Residential Construction Spending Slips in 2018

Construction spending in December 2018 saw a nearly 1% dip compared to the previous month, according to a recent release from Wells Fargo. With this drop, spending in construction for all of 2018 saw its slowest growth since 2011, growing by just over 4%. The release said this slowdown comes from "sluggish new homebuilding activity," which impacted...
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New Single-Family Home Sales Hit Stride in December

New single-family home sales ended 2018 with an unforeseen upswing, showing a 1.5% gain year-over-year (YOY) after November's dwindling findings. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau released its December data on March 5 due to the government shutdown earlier this year. In a report, National Association of...
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Texas Bills Introduced Could Affect Lien Law

There are several new bills floating around in the Texas Legislature that, if signed into law, will affect lien law in the state. Senate Bill 845 was referred to the Committee on Business and Commerce Friday, March 1 after its first reading. Its corresponding legislation, House Bill 1918, was introduced in the middle of February. Both relate to the...
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US Farmers Struggle to Pay Off Debt

American farmers are stretching to make payments as debt levels have reached $409 billion in 2019—$24 billion higher than the prior year. According to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Reuters reported, "commodity prices, storms damaging crops and loss of key export markets" are behind the rising debt. Similar debt levels were last seen abou...
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Delaying Payments Becomes Riskier for Large Firms in India

​ Delayed payment penalties against large firms are tightening in India, where the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) announced the possibility of imprisonment if small suppliers are paid after 45 days. According to the Knowledge & News Network (KNN), the penalties correspond with legislation to ensure smaller suppliers get paid in a timely ma...
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Housing Starts Saw Stark Drop in December 2018

During the month of December in 2018, housing starts fell by nearly 12% compared to last month, according to The NAHB/Wells Fargo Homebuilders' Survey. Both single- and multi-family homes saw a drop during the year end. The plunge likely came from fears around the Federal Reserve continuing to hike short-term interest rates, which they said will co...
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Existing Home Sales Decline Again

Existing home sales are off to a slow start for 2019. Sales dropped for the third-straight month in January, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). January's decline of 1.2% put the seasonally adjusted annual rate at 4.94 million, the lowest since November 2015, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. "Existing home sales in Januar...
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Business Spending on Equipment Drops in December

Businesses spent significantly less on equipment in December 2018, fueling economists' beliefs that economic growth is in trouble. According to a Reuters report on Feb. 21, data from the Commerce Department shows a 0.7% decline in non-defense capital goods spending—as opposed to economists' predictions of a 0.2% gain—while the shipment of said good...
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Honda Joins Nissan, Dyson in Moving UK Operations

Honda announced Feb. 20 it will be moving its operations located in the U.K. to Japan at the end of its production cycle, which is due to close in 2021. Honda now joins Nissan and Dyson, who have also decided to move operations outside of the U.K. Honda did not immediately blame Brexit for its decision to move to Japan, but did say in a statement, ...
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