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posted on 20 April 2017

April 2017 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Declined But Remains Firmly In Expansion

Written by Steven Hansen

The Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey declined again but remains firmly in expansion. Key elements likewise declined.

Analyst Opinion of the Philly Fed Business Outllook Survey

There is continuing significant strength in this survey from new orders even with the decline. Note that last month, Federal Reserve data shows manufacturing declined and the regional fed surveys all said manufacturing improved.

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 moved from +32.8 to +22.0. Positive numbers indicate market expansion, negative numbers indicate contraction. The market expected (from Bloomberg / Econoday) 20.0 to 35.4 (consensus +26.0).

Results from the April Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity continued to expand, but at a slower pace than last month. The diffusion indexes for general activity, new orders, and shipments remained positive but fell from their readings in March. The current employment index, however, improved slightly and continues to suggest expanding employment in the manufacturing sector. The survey's future indicators continued to reflect general optimism but retreated from their high readings in the first three months of the year.

Current Indicators Continue to Reflect Growth

The index for current manufacturing activity in the region decreased from a reading of 32.8 in March to 22.0 this month. The index has been positive for nine consecutive months and remains at a relatively high reading but has moved down the past two months (see Chart 1). Thirty-seven percent of the firms indicated increases in activity in April, while 15 percent reported decreases. The current new orders and shipments indexes remained at high readings but declined 11 points and 10 points, respectively. Both the delivery times and unfilled orders indexes were positive for the sixth consecutive month, suggesting longer delivery times and increases in unfilled orders.

z philly fed1.PNG

Econintersect believes the important elements of this survey are new orders and unfilled orders . Both new orders and unfilled orders remain in expansion.

z philly fed2.PNG

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).

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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