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02/14/2017

Improvement Continues, Says March Trends Report

Industry Trends Report

NAHAD’s March Trends Report offers further evidence of improving activity following the broad post-election improvement in optimism. Although not as robust as January (due to the calendar shift), February results showed a continuation of the broad-based improvement in sales and orders, improved backlog, and much improved inventory metrics suggests the pace of recovery could be more robust than we had previously expected following this long, drawn-out downturn.

Through the first two months of the quarter, sales growth in our survey is ~4% compared with a 2% decline in 4Q16. February marks the second conservative month of growth with sales up 2% following growth of 6% in January. Growth in February was impacted by one fewer selling day while the 6% increase in January was helped by an extra day.

We appear to be in the early innings of an inventory rebuild cycle. Sequentially, inventories improved for the second consecutive month with the strongest reading in over two years. Inventory sentiment was below the long run average for the sixth consecutive month.

Distributors and manufacturers have left their full year outlook for 2017 unchanged at up 5-6% on average. This is up from an initial outlook of 3% and follows a decline of ~5% in 2016.

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