Total sales of light vehicles during January declined 4.1% (-1.8% y/y) to 17.12 million (SAAR) following a 1.9% December increase to 17.85 million, according to the Autodata Corporation. It compared to an 18.6 million September high and was the lowest level since August.
Light truck sales fell 3.5% (+4.5% y/y) to 11.36 million after a 4.9% December rise. Domestically-made light trucks were off 4.4% (+1.2% y/y) to 9.18 million units, reversing a 4.7% December rise. Imported light truck sales rose 0.8% (20.7% y/y) to 2.17 million units, a record high.
Trucks’ share of the U.S. vehicle market jumped to a record 66.3% in January and was higher than 63.2% during all of last year.
Auto sales fell 5.3% (-12.1% y/y) to 5.77 million units following three consecutive months of 3.6% decline. Domestic passenger car sales declined 6.5% (-12.1% y/y) to 4.11 million, the lowest level since August 2011. Sales of imported passenger cars eased 2.2% (-12.3% y/y) to 1.66 million units, the lowest level since December 2008.
Imports’ share of the U.S. vehicle market rose to 22.4% last month from a 19.9% low during all of 2015. Imports’ share of the passenger car market increased to 28.7%, a twelve-month high. Imports share of the light truck market strengthened to 19.1%, up from a 12.7% low during all of 2014.
These charts from CalculatedRisk show that vehicle demand has yet to break out from previous cycle peaks:
Operating conditions across the US manufacturing sector continued to improve in January, with the latest survey data indicating the strongest upturn since March 2015. Moreover, production levels and new orders grew at the quickest rates in twelve months. Rising global demand also drove a faster expansion in new export orders.
Higher production requirements resulted in a sharp and accelerated increase in buying activity. At the same time, the rate of input cost inflation eased slightly but remained marked overall. Consequently, firms raised their selling prices at the second-steepest pace since September 2014.
The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit final US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) registered 55.5 in January, up from 55.1 in December. The latest index reading indicated a strong improvement in business conditions across the manufacturing sector. Moreover, the index signalled the strongest upturn in the health of the sector for over two-and-a-half years.
Extending the trend seen since June 2016, manufacturers indicated a further rise in production in January. The rate of growth accelerated to the sharpest in twelve months. (…) Greater domestic and foreign client demand underpinned the largest rise in total new orders since January 2017. New business from abroad registered one of the largest gains seen over the past year and a half.
For the thirteenth month running, vendor performance deteriorated as capacity pressures at suppliers led to longer lead times. Purchasing activity rose at the quickest rate since September 2014, stretching supply chains, and pre-production inventories accumulated at the fastest pace in twelve months.
The latest rise in input costs largely stemmed from greater raw material prices and higher transport costs. Although the rate of inflation was marked, it dipped slightly to a three-month low. Conversely, output charge inflation accelerated to the second-highest since September 2014.
Higher new orders contributed to a further rise in backlogs of work in January. The level of outstanding business at manufacturing firms increased at the fastest rate since October 2015. Staffing numbers also grew strongly, with a number of panel members linking payroll growth to greater business activity and improved future output expectations. (…)
The eurozone manufacturing sector made a strong start to 2018. Although January saw rates of growth in output and new orders ease from near-record highs at the end of last year, they remained among the best seen since the survey began in 1997.
The final IHS Markit Eurozone Manufacturing PMI® posted a three-month low of 59.6 in January, down from December’s record high of 60.6 and identical to the earlier flash estimate. (…)
Sector data signalled solid growth across the consumer, intermediate and investment goods categories, with the steepest rates of expansion in the latter two. This was despite consumer goods being the only category to see growth accelerate during the latest survey month. (…)
Companies indicated that they were experiencing solid inflows of new business from both the domestic and export markets during January. The level of new export orders rose at a robust pace, albeit a three month low. (…) Solid increases in staffing levels were seen across the nations covered by the survey (…)
Higher staff headcounts reflected improved inflows of new orders, rising business confidence and efforts to increase capacity in light of increasing backlogs of work. (…)
Inflationary pressures picked up at the start of 2018, with both output charges and input prices rising at faster rates. Output price inflation accelerated to an 80-month high.
Purchasing costs rose to the greatest extent in over six-and-a-half years, reflecting higher commodity prices (including oil) and greater pricing power at vendors. The latter factor was the result of shortages developing for some inputs as demand outstripped supply. This also led to one of the sharpest lengthening of supplier lead times on record.
The headline Nikkei Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ IndexTM (PMI)® increased to 54.8 in January, up from 54.0 in December. The headline PMI has risen for three successive months and the latest reading signalled the sharpest improvement in the health of the Japanese manufacturing sector since February 2014.
Panellists reported a favourable receipt of new orders during January due to new product launches and strong demand from existing customers. New order growth quickened for a third month in succession to a four-year high. Similarly, new business from abroad increased at a faster pace, recording the quickest rate of growth since May 2010. Firms attributed the rise to stronger demand from China, Korea and Taiwan. Subsequently, firms increased output for the eighteenth consecutive month and at the sharpest rate in 47 months.
Operating capacities were tested as a result of greater sales. Backlogs of work were accumulated for a fifth month running in January, albeit at a fractionally slower pace. Anecdotal evidence suggested that panellists anticipate the upward trend in order book volumes to continue. (…)
The rate of job creation accelerated to the joint fastest since April 2014, on a par with February 2017.
In line with forecasts of greater new order intakes, Japanese manufacturers increased purchasing activity. Input buying increased to the joint strongest extent since February 2014. Confident that output growth would be sustained, Japanese manufacturers were less cautious regarding inventory levels. Input stocks increased for the first time since October last year. Reports from panel members suggested that higher demand for inputs had led to a deterioration of vendor performance.
Suppliers’ delivery times lengthened markedly in January, and for a twenty-first successive month. On the price front, purchase costs increased during the latest survey period, maintaining an inflationary run that started in November 2016. Firms noted that the higher oil price was a key source of cost pressures. In turn, output charges were raised to partly offset the squeeze on profit margins. Output price inflation accelerated to the sharpest extent since October 2008.
The U.S., Europe and Japan are all in acceleration mode with strong inflows of new orders from both domestic and foreign customers, rising capacity constraints and clearly rising pressures on input and output prices.
China, on the other hand, is softer:
China’s manufacturing sector continued to expand at the start of 2018, with production rising to the greatest extent in just over a year. Growth was supported by further, albeit slightly softer, increases in total new work and new export sales. Higher production requirements led firms to increase their buying activity, while employment fell at the weakest pace for nearly three years. Capacity pressures meanwhile persisted, with backlogs of work rising to the greatest extent since early-2011. Prices data showed that input cost inflation eased to a five-month low and factory gate charges rose only slightly. (…)
The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) was unchanged from December’s reading of 51.5 in January, to signal a further modest improvement in overall operating conditions. The health of the sector has now strengthened in each of the past eight months, while the pace of improvement was slightly stronger than the long-run trend.
January data signalled a solid and accelerated increase in Chinese manufacturing output, with the rate of growth the strongest since December 2016. A number of companies mentioned that improving demand conditions and rising new work led them to raise output. Notably, total new orders rose for the nineteenth month in a row, albeit at a moderate pace that was weaker than in December. Growth in new export sales also softened to a similarly modest pace.
Employment continued to decline in January, which was partly linked to company downsizing policies. That said, the rate of job shedding was the weakest since February 2015. At the same time, rising new order volumes exerted further pressure on operating capacity. Notably, outstanding business increased at a solid pace that was the quickest since March 2011.
In line with higher output, manufacturing companies in China continued to raise their purchasing activity in January. However, the time taken for purchased items to be delivered continued to increase.
Stocks of finished goods declined slightly as firms made greater use of current inventories to fulfil new and existing orders. Stocks of purchases were meanwhile unchanged after a slight drop in December.
The rate of input price inflation softened to a five-month low in January, but remained sharp overall. Companies commonly linked higher costs to greater prices for raw materials such as metals and packaging. At the same time, output charges rose at the weakest pace since June 2017.
China Stocks Hit by Beijing’s Financial Clampdown Chinese stocks had their worst week since 2016, with fresh concerns about Beijing’s campaign to cut financial risk and predictions of a slowing economy helping erase half of the market’s year-to-date gains in just a few days.
China’s Bad Banks Face a Case of Indigestion Distressed-debt asset managers are helping give Chinese banks’ share prices a boost by buying their soured loans. But just how much can they absorb?
Earnings keep coming in strong, almost at the halfway mark (227 reports in). The beat rate is a high 80% and the surprise factor 6.0%. Trailing EPS are now $132.32 with Q4’17 EPS seen up 14.9% (+12.4% ex-Energy) from +12.0% on Jan. 1. Q1’18 growth is now forecast at +17.8% from +12.2% on Jan. 1.