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posted on 15 February 2018

February 2018 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Stronger

Written by Steven Hansen

The Philly Fed Business Outlook Survey improved and remains in expansion. Key elements significantly improved.

Analyst Opinion of the Philly Fed Business Outllook Survey

Consider this a significantly stronger report than last month as key elements strongly 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 +22.2 to +25.8 Positive numbers indicate market expansion, negative numbers indicate contraction. The market expected (from Bloomberg / Econoday) 19.0 to 24.7 (consensus +21.5).

Results from the Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey suggest that the region's manufacturing sector continues to expand in February. The indexes for general activity, new orders, and employment were all positive this month and increased from their readings last month. Price increases for inputs were more widespread this month, according to the respondents. The survey's future indexes, reflecting expectations for the next six months, suggest continued optimism.

Most Current Indicators Improved This Month

The index for current manufacturing activity increased 4 points in February to a reading of 25.8. The index has stayed within a relatively narrow range over the past nine months (see Chart 1). Nearly 41 percent of the firms indicated increases in activity this month, while 15 percent reported decreases. The demand for manufactured goods, as measured by the survey's current new orders index, showed notable improvement: The diffusion index increased 14 points, with 41 percent of the firms reporting an increase in new orders this month. The current shipments index remained positive but fell 15 points to 15.5. Both the unfilled orders and delivery times indexes were positive, suggesting an increase in unfilled orders and slower deliveries.

z philly fed1.PNG

Econintersect believes the important elements of this survey are new orders and unfilled orders . New orders improved and remained in expansion whilst unfilled orders improved and returned to 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.

21.0 to 31.8


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