ASA’s Monthly Pulse shows member respondents reported a median sales increase of 9% for the month ending Aug. 31 vs. the same timeframe in 2017.

Calendar year-to-date, respondents reported a median sales growth of 9.1%. For the trailing 12 months ending Aug. 31, respondents reported a median sales growth of 8%. Inventory rose 8.4% for August 2018 vs. August 2017.

The median three-months average days sales outstanding decreased to 43 days in August. Just over 47% of survey participants reported an increase in gross-margin percentages for August 2018 vs. August 2017.

Company year-to-date profit before tax increased for 72.7% of the respondents. Over half (58.4%) of the respondents reported having more full-time equivalent employees vs. a year ago.

On the industrial PVF front, member distributors of industrial pipe, valves and fitting products reported a 22% median sales increase for the month ending Aug. 31 vs. the same timeframe in 2017. The calendar year-to-date figure stands at 15% for PVF member respondents, while the trailing 12-month number sits at a 16.7% increase related to PVF member distributor respondents.

In terms of economic indicators, the Monthly Pulse shows the real GDP figure for the second quarter at a revised 4.2% growth. For the 24th consecutive month, total wholesale sales growth exceeded inventory growth. Total wholesale sales grew 9.8% for July 2018, while inventories reported growth of 5%.

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in August with the PMI coming in at 61.3%. A reading of 50% or more indicates an expansion in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturers’ new orders of consumer goods increased slightly in July, while manufacturers’ new orders of nondefense capital goods moderately decreased in July.

The unemployment rate in August remained at 3.9%, which is close to the 17-year low of 3.8% in May. The weekly initial claims for unemployment was slightly down in July, remaining near the four-week average historical low that hasn’t been seen since the early 1970s.

Housing starts and building permits increased in July.