At an aggregate level business confidence remained unchanged in February, hitting the same 72.2 mark as in January. A sense of wait-and-see has crept into some of the comments, resulting in 11 point drops in the percentage of respondents reporting both better and worse conditions, along with a 22 point increase in the share of those who see current conditions as unchanged. Despite the internal churning, the current conditions index remains in the expansionary range.
The survey’s measure of the intensity of change in electroindustry business conditions continued to move further into positive territory, as the mean rating increased from +0.6 last month to +0.7 in February. The median score remained at 1, where it landed last month following many months at 0. 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 index had reached high levels last month, nearly matching an all-time high with an aggregate score of 91.7. That number has come down by 13.9 points to 77.8 in February, which still reflects a positive level of confidence in conditions six months from now. The shift in the underlying data comes from the 16 percentage point decline, from 83 percent in January to 67 percent now, in those expecting conditions to be better. Also, 11 percent of our panelists now expect worse conditions, up from zero with that expectation last month.