Manufacturing in U.S. expands at faster pace than forecast

Vehicle Sales

Motor vehicle demand has kept assembly lines busy at the nation’s automakers. Cars and light trucks sold at a 15.2 million annualized pace in September after a 16 million rate the previous month that was the fastest since November 2007, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, achieved a record third-quarter pre-tax profit of $2.6 billion, lifting its full-year outlook, according to an Oct. 24 company statement.

Ford’s vehicle deliveries, revenue and market share increased in all four of its regions during the third quarter. Operations outside North America earned about $57 million, the company’s best result on that basis since the second quarter of 2011.

Even with last month’s budget issues in Washington, some companies such as Kennametal Inc., which produces tools and tooling systems, see signs of sustained growth in the global economy.

‘Strong’ Foundation

“In the U.S., there have been various concerns about the economy as well as the fiscal budget issues and tax increases as well as the federal spending sequester,” Carlos Cardoso, chairman and chief executive officer at Latrobe, Pennsylvania- based Kennametal, said on an Oct. 24 earnings call. “Business conditions continue to be tentative” even as “the foundation of a recovery remains strong.”

At the same time, the medical device industry is one sector that’s struggling with limited demand. Boston Scientific Corp., the second-biggest maker of heart-rhythm aids, plans to cut as many as 1,500 employees through 2015, the Natick, Massachusetts- based company said in an Oct. 24 statement.

The cutbacks build on a 2011 program, which was expanded in January, and are in line with efforts by competitors including industry leader Medtronic Inc. of Minneapolis, which announced cuts of as many as 2,000 jobs in 2011.

Insufficient demand has convinced the Federal Reserve to press on with $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, according to a statement earlier this week at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Washington.

“The recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in the statement. “Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth.”

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