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posted on 24 March 2015

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey Shows Contraction in March 2015

Of the three regional Federal Reserve surveys released to date, two show manufacturing expanding weakly and now the Richmond survey shows contraction. The market expected this survey index at -4 to +5 (consensus 2.0) versus the -8 actual [note that values above zero represent expansion].

Manufacturing activity declined in March, according to the most recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Shipments and the volume of new orders dropped. Order backlogs fell and capacity utilization declined. Hiring in the manufacturing sector was soft and the average workweek shortened. Wage growth remained modest.

Looking ahead six months, producers anticipated more favorable business conditions. Producers expected strength in shipments and new orders, and a jump in capacity utilization. Expectations were for a growing backlog of orders and a slight rise in vendor lead-times. Further, producers anticipated robust growth in hiring and wages, along with a modestly longer workweek.

Prices of raw materials and finished goods rose only slightly in March. Manufacturers anticipated mildly faster price growth over the next six months, compared with the current pace.

Current Activity

Manufacturing activity decelerated this month after flattening in February. The composite index fell to −8 in March from a reading of 0 a month earlier. The shipments index collapsed to −13, as did the index for the volume of new orders, compared to month-ago readings of −1 and −2, respectively. Capacity utilization also fell, with that index shrinking three points to −7.

The gauge for vendor lead-times dropped to −9 from 2. Finally, backlogs of new orders lost two points, settling at −12 in March.

As shipments declined, finished goods inventories rose, pulling the index to 25 from 20. Raw materials inventories also grew, with that indicator gaining nine points to end the survey period at 25.

Read entire source document from Richmond Fed

Summary of all Federal Reserve Districts Manufacturing:

Richmond Fed (hyperlink to reports):

z richmond_man.PNG

Kansas Fed (hyperlink to reports):

z kansas_man.PNG

Dallas Fed (hyperlink to reports):

z dallas_man.PNG

Philly Fed (hyperlink to reports):

z philly fed1.PNG

New York Fed (hyperlink to reports):

z empire1.PNG

Federal Reserve Industrial Production - Actual Data (hyperlink to report):

Holding this and other survey's Econintersect follows accountable for their predictions, the following graph compares the hard data from Industrial Products manufacturing subindex (dark blue bar) and US Census manufacturing shipments (lighter blue bar) to the Dallas Fed survey (light blue bar).

Comparing Surveys to Hard Data:

z survey1.png

In the above graphic, hard data is the long bars, and surveys are the short bars. The arrows on the left side are the key to growth or contraction.



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