The Index of Small Business Optimism rose 1.6 points to 105.2, preserving the surge in optimism that started the day after the election. Seven of the 10 Index components posted a gain, two declined, and one was unchanged.
…but it does not seem to impact profits and margins, just yet anyway, from what biz owners actually report…
…there is little complaint about sales, labor costs nor even competition from larger companies:
Bespoke has these 2 charts illustrating the relative importance of sales and labor in small biz worry list:
To complete the loop, the quarterly RSM Middle Market Business Index is also going up reflecting “underlying improvement in economic conditions during the past year, as well as strong corporate earnings and respondent expectations for significant tax reform and regulatory relief this year.
The major takeaways from the data continue to be the current quarter improvement in gross revenues and net earnings, as well as solid expectations on both over the next six months. Fifty-five percent of middle market executives experienced an improvement in gross revenues, while 53 percent saw improvement in net earnings. During the next six months, 67 percent of middle market executives anticipate growth in gross revenues, with 67 percent anticipating improved net earnings, up from 66 percent previously. (…)
On an industry basis, construction, wholesale trade and financial activities all experienced notable improvements, while retail trade observed a modest increase in business activity. Professional business, education, health care and goods production saw little change in overall business conditions. Manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, information, and leisure and hospitality all saw declines in business conditions. In our estimation, solid domestic demand for goods and improving financial conditions were the primary catalysts for the pick-up in business conditions, while slowing auto production and the lagged impact of U.S. dollar appreciation were the major drags on manufacturing. (…)
As the Q2 earnings season draws to an impressive close, there are few signs of any change in trends from corporate surveys, large medium or small.
(…) If 10.1% is the actual growth rate for the second quarter, it will mark the second highest (year-over-year) earnings growth for the index since Q4’11 (11.6%), and it will mark the first time the index has seen two consecutive quarters of (year-over-year) double-digit earnings growth since Q3’11 (16.7%) and Q4’11 (11.6%). (…)
Companies in aggregate are beating EPS estimates by a wider margin for Q2 2017 (+6.3%) relative to the five-year average (+4.2%). (…) Three sectors account for $7.2 billion (or 74%) of this $9.7 billion increase in earnings since June 30: Health Care, Financials, and Information Technology.
BUT RISKS REMAIN:
Recent data on the U.S. consumer are worrisome:
- since March 2016, real expenditures have increased 3.5%
- while real disposable income rose only 1.7%, half the spending pace!
- Total consumer credit rose 7.3% during the same period, twice the spending growth and more than 4 times the income growth.
Clearly unsustainable…and the U.S. consumer is 70% of the economy and has been the main growth engine in recent years…
The savings rate could decline further (beware irrational wishful thinking) but would simply increase the economic risk, especially when the Fed is trying to get in a hawkish mood…
…and lenders are tightening standards as their loan losses are already rising.
Recessions are generally engineered by the Fed when excesses need to be corrected. Not really the case now.
But if the consumer goes on strike during the important second half (back-to-school, Thanksgiving, Xmas)…
This is not just a remote possibility. The consumer math is pretty iffy. Will work on that.
U.S. Job Openings Climb to Record 6.2 Million at End of June The pace of hiring for abundant job openings, though, has remained unchanged
The number of job openings climbed by 417,000 in June for private employers and by 44,000 for government postings, which include state and local government, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known as Jolts. (…)
Industries that particularly have seen job openings soar include the education and health-services industry, and professional and business services. Those industries have far more job openings now than they ever did before the recession.
The construction and manufacturing industries, by contrast, have lagged behind. The manufacturing industry has about as many openings today as it did in 2007, while the construction industry still has fewer available jobs than at the height of last decade’s housing bubble.
The JOLT report confirms the NFIB results above. Labor demand is indeed at a cycle high. The problem is that these jobs are not being filled (lack of qualified workers) and employers don’t seem willing to pay up so far.
Unfilled jobs are piling up:
An all-time high total of 9,773 robots valued at approximately $516 million were ordered from North American robotics companies during the first quarter of 2017. This represents growth of 32 percent in units over the same period in 2016, which held the previous record. Order revenue grew 28 percent over the first quarter of last year. Robot shipments also reached new heights, with 8,824 robots valued at $494 million shipped to North American customers in the opening quarter of the year. This represents growth of 24 percent in units and five percent in dollars over the same period in 2016. (…)
Robots ordered by automotive component suppliers were up 53 percent while orders by automotive OEMs increased 32 percent. Another good sign for the future of robotics was the continued growth in non-automotive industries like metals (54 percent), semiconductors/electronics (22 percent), and food & consumer goods (15 percent). (…)
Pyongyang Defies Trump ‘Fire and Fury’ Warning, Threatens U.S. in Guam President Donald Trump demanded North Korea not “make any more threats” to the U.S., saying the country “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Hours later, North Korea says it is considering a plan to launch missiles at Guam.
(…) Those familiar with the matter say Mr Trump, who only three months ago said he would be ““honoured” to meet supreme leader Kim Jong Un, is torn between competing advice. “There is a camp that believes we should push very hard — even to the point of launching a pre-emptive strike,” said a person familiar with the matter, who characterised the second camp as preferring to pursue talks, but having little to show for it amid North Korea’s rapidly accelerating nuclear efforts.
“The first camp is going to win the argument by default unless the second camp can actually walk into [Mr Trump’s] office and prove they have something real,” said the person. (…)
Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, is in Asia seeking a policy of “peaceful pressure” combining sanctions and regional lobbying while looking to reassure Mr Kim that he and his regime are not at risk. He has said Washington will consider talks so long as Pyongyang stops its missile launches, suggesting the US sees such an outcome “as the best signal that North Korea could give us”. (…)
“The North Koreans need to realise that if they don’t give the second camp some ammunition — some indication that there is a path to sincere and effective talks that could address the US concerns — the first camp is going to win and it is going to be a bloodbath,” said the person familiar with the matter. “It’s up to them to decide.”
(…) North Korea’s military doctrine, as expressed in recent exercises, envisages the first use of nuclear weapons to ward off defeat or destruction. Jeffrey Lewis, an academic expert, wrote recently in Foreign Policy: “Kim’s strategy depends on using nuclear weapons early — before the United States can kill him or special forces can find his missile units . . . He has to go first, if he is to go at all.” (…)
Mr Trump is capable of shameless switches in rhetoric and policy. So it is certainly possible that he will simply back down on North Korea, or will embrace the status quo as the dramatic change that he has been seeking all along.
However, it is also possible that Mr Trump has convinced himself that a first strike on North Korea is a workable option. Any such conclusion would fly in the face of standard military advice, which holds that it is impossible to “take out” the North Korean nuclear programme with a single wave of attacks and that therefore, following any such assault, South Korea, Japan and US bases in the region, would be exposed to retaliation. (…)