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posted on 26 May 2015

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey Squeaks Into Expansion in April 2015

Of the four regional Federal Reserve surveys released to date, three show manufacturing expanding weakly and one is in contraction.

The market expected this survey index at -1 to +9 (consensus +1.0) versus the +1.0 actual [note that values above zero represent expansion].

Manufacturing activity flattened in May, according to the most recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Shipments and the volume of new orders leveled off, while the backlog of orders declined further compared to last month. Hiring edged up, while the average workweek increased slightly. However, average wage growth accelerated this month.

Despite the soft conditions this month, manufacturers continued to look for improved business conditions in the next six months. Expectations were for solid growth in shipments and in the volume of new orders in the six months ahead. In addition, survey participants looked for increased capacity utilization and expected order backlogs to grow more quickly. However, producers looked for little change in vendor lead times.

Manufacturers' outlook for the months ahead included faster growth in the number of employees and average wages than in the current month. In addition, they expected modest growth in the length of the average workweek.

Prices of raw materials rose at a somewhat faster pace in May compared to last month. However, price growth slowed for finished goods. Manufacturers expected faster growth in prices paid and in prices received during the next six months.

Current Activity

Manufacturing activity remained soft this month, with several components flattening. The composite index for manufacturing moved to 1 following April's reading of −3, while the shipments index leveled off to −1 from −6. In addition, the index for new orders gained eight points, reaching a nearly flat reading of 2. Manufacturing hiring continued to grow at a modest pace this month. The May indicator slipped four points to a reading of 3.

Capacity utilization increased this month. The index moved up 11 points to a reading of 7. Backlogs decreased, pulling that index down two points to −10. Vendor lead time lengthened, pushing the index to 6 from a reading of −6. Finished goods inventories rose more quickly than a month ago. The index gained three points to finish at 21. Additionally, raw materials inventories rose at a slightly faster rate. That gauge also moved up three points, ending at 22.

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 Richmond Fed survey (darkest 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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