Industry Analysis

Arrow denotes 12-month moving total/average direction

Retail Sales

  • US Total Retail Sales were up 3.6% in the 12 months through December
  • Despite the recent tick-up in the annual growth rate, Retail Sales will generally slow into late 2020
  • Retail Sales at Nonstore Retailers (up 12.9%) are growing more than 10 times as fast as at General Merchandise Retailers (up 1.2%)

Wholesale Trade

  • Annual US Total Wholesale Trade will be mostly flat into mid-2020, then rise during the second half of the year
  • Wholesale Trade of Durable Goods spending will transition to rise by mid-2020
  • Recovering Oil Prices and a tick-up in Consumer Nondurable New Orders bode well for Wholesale Trade of Nondurable Goods spending this year

Auto Production

  • Annual North America Light Vehicle Production was down 3.8% year over year
  • Activity will decline into late this year
  • The US Auto Loan Delinquency Rate is at a post-Great Recession high of 4.94%; exercise caution if your business is exposed to the auto industry


  • Annual US Total Manufacturing Production declined further in December
  • Decline in Production is expected to persist into the second half of this year
  • The US Total Industry Capacity Utilization Rate signals further cyclical decline for Production in the coming quarters

Rotary Rig

  • The US Rotary Rig Count averaged 802 rigs in the three months through January, down 25.3% from a year ago
  • Both the US Natural Gas Rig Count and the US Oil Rig Count have declined further in the three months through January
  • US Mining Equipment New Orders were down 7.4% year over year; demand for equipment is lackluster

Capital Goods

  • Annual US Nondefense Capital Goods New Orders (excluding aircraft) will decline through mid-2020 but will end the year just above the 2019 total
  • Growth in Nondefense Capital Goods New Orders will be more robust in 2021 than 2020
  • Annual Defense Capital Goods New Orders ticked up in December and will accelerate through much of 2020

Nonresidential Construction

  • Growth in US Total Nonresidential Construction will generally slow through at least 2020
  • Annual US Public Nonresidential Construction spending, up 7.2% year over year, rose further in December
  • US Private Nonresidential Construction will transition to an accelerating trend by the second quarter of 2020

Residential Construction

  • Annual US Total Residential Construction rose during recent months
  • Accelerating growth in Construction will take hold by mid-2020 and extend through at least the end of the year
  • Leading indicators for Construction give reason for optimism; ensure you have adequate labor if you operate in this industry

Leading Indicator Snapshot

Key Takeaways

  • The Conference Board’s US Leading Indicator suggests further cyclical decline for US Industrial Production into at least mid-2020
  • The ITR Leading Indicator™ is in its third month of rise. This supports our outlook for business cycle rise in US Industrial Production beginning in the second half of 2020
  • The US ISM PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) rate-of-change is rising, providing further evidence in support of our US industrial sector outlook