Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region firmed somewhat in September, following three months of contraction, according to the Richmond Fed's latest survey. The seasonally adjusted index of overall activity edged higher as positive readings for shipments and new orders offset the negative reading for employment. Modest improvement was also evident in most other indicators. Capacity utilization turned positive, while backlogs and delivery times remained negative but improved from their August readings. Moreover, raw materials inventories grew at a slightly slower pace, while growth in finished goods was unchanged.
Looking ahead, assessments of business prospects for the next six months were more optimistic in September. Contacts at more firms anticipated that shipments, new orders, backlogs, capacity utilization, and vendor lead-times would grow more quickly in the months ahead.
Survey assessments of current prices revealed that growth in raw material prices grew more quickly, while finished goods prices grew more slowly. Over the next six months, respondents expected growth in both raw materials and finished goods prices to grow at a much slower pace than they had anticipated a month earlier.
In September, the seasonally adjusted composite index of manufacturing activity—our broadest measure of manufacturing—gained thirteen points to 4 from August’s reading of -9. Among the index’s components, shipments rose eight points to 9, new orders picked up twenty-seven points to end at 7, and the jobs index held steady at -5.
Most other indicators also suggested modest improvement. The index for capacity utilization turned positive, picking up twelve points to 3, and the backlogs of orders index increased sixteen points to end at -9. Additionally, the delivery times index added three points to -1, while our gauges for inventories were mixed in September. The raw materials inventory index fell seven points to finish at 17, while the finished goods inventory index was unchanged at 18.
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Summary of all Federal Reserve Districts Manufacturing:
Richmond Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Kansas Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Dallas Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Philly Fed (hyperlink to reports):
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New York Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Federal Reserve Industrial Production - Actual Data (hyperlink to report)