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posted on 21 July 2016

July 2016 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Now Slightly In Contraction. However, Key Elements Significantly Improved.

Written by Steven Hansen

The Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey fell into contraction. Key elements significantly improved and returned to expansion. The only other manufacturing survey released so far for this month was in expansion.

This is a very noisy index which readers should be reminded is sentiment based. The Philly Fed historically is one of the more negative of all the Fed manufacturing surveys but has been more positive then the others recently.

The index declined from +4.7 to -2.9. Positive numbers indicate market expansion, negative numbers indicate contraction. The market expected (from Bloomberg) 0.0 to 9.0 (consensus +5.0).

Manufacturing activity in the region fell slightly in July, according to firms responding to this month's Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey. Although the indicator for current general activity turned negative, indicators for new orders and shipments were positive. Employment was flat at the reporting firms this month. Firms reported higher prices paid for materials and other inputs in July, but prices received for manufactured goods were relatively steady. The survey's index of future activity improved slightly, and firms expect growth in new orders and shipments over the next six months.

Indicators for Current Growth Were Mixed

The survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, fell from 4.7 in June to -2.9 this month. For nine of the past 11 months, this diffusion index has been negative (see Chart 1). Twenty-two percent of the firms reported an increase in activity, 3 points lower than last month, and the percent of firms that reported decreases rose from 20 to 25. Fifty-one percent of the firms reported steady activity this month, similar to the share that reported steady activity last month.

z philly fed1.PNG

Econintersect believes the important elements of this survey are new orders and unfilled orders . Both new orders and unfilled orders improved and climbed into expansion.

This index has many false recession warnings.

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 Philly Fed survey (yellow 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.

Caveats on the use of Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey:

This is a survey, a quantification of opinion - not facts and data. Surveys lead hard data by weeks to months, and can provide early insight into changing conditions. Econintersect finds they do not necessarily end up being consistent compared to hard economic data that comes later, and can miss economic turning points.

This survey is very noisy - and recently showed recessionary conditions. And it is understood from 3Q2011 GDP that the economy was expanding even though this index was in contraction territory. On the positive side, it hit the start and finish of the 2007 recession exactly.

No survey is accurate in projecting employment - and the Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey is no exception. Although there are some general correlation in trends, month-to-month movements have not correlated with the BLS Service Sector Employment data.

Over time, there is a general correlation with real business data - but month-to-month conflicts are frequent.



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