An uptick in the share of respondents that reported unchanged conditions, combined with a decline in the number of responses indicating a worsening business environment, have boosted the current component of the EBCI to an expansionary reading by the narrowest of margins. October’s score of 50.0 is nearly 4 points higher than last month’s. The underlying distribution reflects conditions that have been perceived as positive for 24 months and are now finely balanced with equal upside and downside risks.
Although the median measure remained at 0, the mean value of the reported intensity of change in electroindustry business conditions edged down to -0.1. This makes marks the first time the intensity indicator moved into negative territory since September 2016. Panelists are asked to report intensity of change on a scale ranging from –5 (deteriorated significantly) through 0 (unchanged) to +5 (improved significantly).
The future conditions component continued to lose ground, sliding seven points to 39.3 in October, its lowest reading since February 2009. Even though half of the respondents expect conditions to be unchanged six months from now, those foreseeing worse conditions outnumber those indicating a better environment ahead by almost 2 to 1. Concerns about the effect of tariffs, and the apparent likelihood that hoped-for infrastructure expenditures are off the table, serve as a backdrop to the erosion in optimism.
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