According to R.W. Bari’s Industrial Review both quotation and order activity improved in 4Q 2016. This was buoyed by a consistently better business sentiment as election uncertainty faded and Trump optimism soared.
With 94% of the quarterly Baird survey respondents predicting positive growth for 2017, the level of optimism is at historic levels and mirrors a newfound investor confidence, which is expecting a resurgence of growth under Trump’s pro-business presidency. Along with the positive mindset of the survey respondents, it would be remissive not to note the cost of raw materials, such as copper, nickel and iron, all have increased more than 20% since the fall of 2016. Steel is settling in, showing more than 10% increases in the same time period. Manufacturers will be looking to recover these material costs as a percent of sales. Price increases already have hit the market and are beginning to take hold. The quick rise in raw materials necessitated an immediate strong reaction to offset the additional production costs.
It would seem the prognosticators are taking a “wait and see” approach to the global marketplace as markets remain challenged both economically and politically.
Oil and gas
Although this market appears to be recovering, it is haunted by the volatility of the price of oil. The quarterly Baird survey cited this market as the most likely to “improve and erode.”
As the next round of projects appears likely to proceed this year, the chemical market remains stable and positive for 2017.
These markets are by no means booming, but they are holding steady. Respondents to the most recent quarterly Baird survey indicate the outlook is improving.
Strong pockets remain across the country with work in all sectors. Health care, education and hospitality are leading the march as all push forward following a very strong 2016. Additional planning is expected based on the Trump administration’s plans to review tax codes and create more incentives.
There is still a fair amount of activity in the combined cycle area of this market, but increased demand and additional gas pipeline construction is required before returning to a really robust power market.
Municipal water infrastructure
With Trump’s commitment to infrastructure repair and improvement, there is already an uptick in activity in this area, which is critically needed and thought to continue for the duration of Republican control inside the beltway.