Analysts at Nomura point out that the US Empire State survey headline index jumped to 22.5 in March, from 13.1 February.
“The new orders and shipment indices rose solidly, pointing to continued momentum in demand. Healthy global growth has also been contributing to continued firm growth. However, in the March ISM surveys many industries noted concern over proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. The prices paid index of the ISM surveys jumped, reflecting these concerns. While the April Empire State survey may reflect some of these concerns, we expect manufacturers’ optimistic outlook to persist. We forecast 18.0 for April following 22.5 in March.”
“Business inventories: Real inventory buildup will likely contribute solidly to real GDP growth in Q1. Incoming data indicate a decent 0.3% m-o-m increase in factory inventories in February. Wholesale inventories rose solidly by 1.0% and retail inventories gained a firm 0.4%, although much of the increase in inventories at retail stores was driven by the increase in the stock of autos as sales slowed. Altogether, the final estimate of business inventories will likely come in at a 0.6% increase.”
“NAHB housing market index: We expect the April NAHB housing market index to decline 1pp to 69. Demand for housing has been healthy with strong labor market conditions and elevated consumer confidence. However, threats of tariffs between the US and China raised concerns over input costs and the April NAHB survey will likely pick this up. Homebuilders have already highlighted rising costs of building materials. It is possible that they reacted adversely to the recent escalation in trade tensions. In the March ISM non-manufacturing report, respondents from the construction sector noted that “the unbelievable amount of market volatility in construction-related materials that started with lumber continues with the tariffs on steel and aluminum.”