U.S. warns that chip shortage could shut down factories

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. supply of computer chips has fallen to alarmingly low levels, raising the prospect of factory shutdowns, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Companies that use semiconductors are down to less than five days of inventory — a sharp drop from 40 days in 2019, according to a department survey of 150 companies. The chips used in the production of automobiles and medical devices are especially scarce.

Demand for chips, the department said, was up 17% last year from 2019.

Citing the results, the Biden administration called on Congress to pass stalled legislation that would provide $52 billion for domestic semiconductor production.

“The semiconductor supply chain remains fragile, and it is essential that Congress pass chips funding as soon as possible,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “With sky-rocketing demand and full utilization of existing manufacturing facilities, it’s clear the only solution to solve this crisis in the long-term is to rebuild our domestic manufacturing capabilities.’’

Chip shortages have disrupted auto production and driven up car prices, contributing significantly to a 7% year-over-year increase in consumer prices last month — the hottest inflation in four decades. Still, it would take years for semiconductor factories to begin operation.

7 Manufacturing Stocks That Will Overcome Current Difficulties

The manufacturing industry was one of the hardest hits in 2020. In the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies were forced to shutter operations. However, opportunistic investors kept their eye on several of these companies as recovery stocks. And at the beginning of 2021, the emergence of several vaccines allowed businesses to reopen.  Not surprisingly, manufacturing stocks were among the biggest winners.

But where are these stocks headed in 2022? In December, American manufacturers reported their slowest pace of growth in 11 months. A closely followed index of U.S.-based manufacturers dropped to 58.7% in the final month of 2021. This was slightly lower than the 61.1% in November according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Still, any number of above 50% signals expansion. And the number is only slightly below the 60% level that signifies exceptional growth.

Ironically, it’s the virus that continues to provide a headwind. Supply chains are unwinding but not nearly fast enough to prevent material shortages. The controversy surrounding vaccine mandates is causing labor shortages.

However, there’s a strong likelihood that manufacturing stocks will have a strong year in 2022. And even if they don’t, many of these stocks pay a reliable dividend. That’s why we’ve put together this special presentation on the manufacturing stocks that will overcome current difficulties.

Originally published on MarketBeat.com

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