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Regional Manufacturing Outlook
Tuesday | 11 April, 2017 | 12:43 pm

West coast

By Modern Metals' staff

Fabrication activity mixed, farming improves

MM 0417 regional lead2April 2017 - Conditions in the manufacturing sector for most of the Western states remained mixed, according to the Federal Reserve Bank’s March 2017 economic conditions survey. Steel mill capacity utilization remained below its long-run average, as a strong dollar and weak global demand slowed exports and boosted imports. Orders of commercial aircraft dipped, and deliveries were flat compared with the same period last year. Contacts in the metals fabrication industry noted that heavy equipment sales were weak, reducing demand for manufactured parts and accessories.

In the agricultural sector, demand for timber remained strong. A major buyer of barley notified producers in Idaho their purchases would contract by 30 percent in 2017. Weak global prices and increased production costs in California further reduced rice plantings. Wet winter conditions increased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, and farmers responding to the survey say they expect increased water supplies to boost harvests later this year.

Real estate market activity grew vigorously, but shortages of land, labor and materials in many major cities in the West somewhat tempered the rapid pace of construction activity, while a few rural regions noted that tight financial conditions remained a barrier to new construction.

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