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Census Data Says Print Shipments Flat, Includes Take from Dr. Joe Webb

Press release from the issuing company

- The Pancake Indus... Whoops ... The Printing Industry July 3, 2003 -- (By Dr. Joe Webb, [email protected]) -- Flatter than a pancake. The May printing and print services shipments data was just released by the Census Bureau, and there's nothing to take away from it other than that the business is flat. It has stopped going down. On a May 2003/May 2002 basis, we are down about 2% from last year, but the month-to-month seasonally adjusted data as tracked by our 12-month inflation-adjusted moving total is dropping only by -0.1% or so, indicating that the worst news in shipments may now be over. I don't expect June data to reflect anything of interest, but I still believe that consumer holiday spending will be stronger than expected as 2003 draws to a close. So a few more lackluster months are ahead of us, and in September and October, I believe some purse strings on the retail side will start to loosen. As an indicator of capital investment spending levels, non-defense investment spending was flat. We still need more time there for a turnaround. In the next few weeks, many large corporations will be reporting their second quarter results, and that will be an indicator of whether or not profits are increasing enough for a more robust spending environment for capital investment and advertising. In a similar vein, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing report released earlier this week reflects continuing sluggish performance. As a side note, lower withholding for federal taxes started on July 1, and consumers will see their child credit checks by mid-August. This should lead to more confidence in consumers this fall, barring, of course, any unexpected news events. Keeping in mind that I am not a medical doctor, I still prescribe a happy Fourth, and hereby suggest a one-day diet amnesty in exchange for having to deal with tepid economic news. Enjoy! On the Web: http://www.census.gov/indicator/www/m3/ http://www.ism.ws/ISMReport/ROB072003.cfm -- Premium Access Members can view more analysis in Dr. Joe Webb’s weekly column on Friday, appropriately called “Fridays with Dr. Joe”. His regular column will appear next Friday because of this week’s national holiday.

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