There are a number of sayings about numbers, if you'll pardon the pun. One is that numbers and statistics can be used to prove—or disprove—anything. But it's also said that numbers don't lie.
Of course, that can make forecasting shaky, as different eyes interpret the same sets of numbers differently. So here's a look at a few sets of statistics that can impact the rubber industry, but it's going to take more than a crystal ball to determine what the road forward looks like.
First, U.S. automotive sales for the first half rose 1.4 percent, which means a seventh consecutive year of growth is just six months away. But signs are indicating that the auto industry may be at that peak some prognosticators had been expecting. In June, strong sales of pickup trucks and SUVs made up for a sales decline in light vehicles for most vehicle makers.
Another report said that orders for U.S. factory goods dropped in May as demand was down for transportation and defense capital orders. Manufacturing was hurt because of the strong dollar, which helped keep exports down, as well as by continued cutbacks by energy firms still hurting from the long-term drop in oil prices.
Yet another key indicator—this one the Institute for Supply Management's index—increased in June to its highest level in 2015, signaling that consumer spending actually may be boosting the nation's manufacturing sector.
Of course, any enthusiasm is tempered with what impact may come from the United Kingdom's vote to withdraw from the European Union.
Finally, the May trade report showed that the U.S. trade deficit continued to grow by double digits. Manufacturing exports actually edged up for the month by about 0.6 percent, but are still down 7.5 percent year to date. And imports, of course, shot up 5.8 percent in May as the nation's trade gap continues to widen.
So all of these numbers undoubtedly will impact another set of numbers coming up in a couple of weeks—the first-half earnings reports. Telling will be how rubber industry related firms will revise their second-half guidance.