So far, all Federal Reserve districts which have released their April surveys – two are forecasting growth and three are forecasting contraction. A complete summary follows.
Texas factory activity increased in March, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose from 6.2 to 9.9, indicating a slightly faster pace of output growth. The share of manufacturers noting a decrease in production fell to its lowest level in two years.
Texas factory activity was flat in April, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell from 9.9 to -0.5. The near-zero reading indicates output was little changed from March levels.
Ebbing growth in manufacturing activity was reflected in other survey measures as well. The capacity utilization index came in at 2.7, down from 5.5, and the shipments index fell to zero after rising to 10.6 in March. The new orders index fell nearly 14 points to -4.9, posting its first negative reading this year.
Perceptions of broader business conditions worsened in April. The general business activity index plummeted from 7.4 to -15.6, reaching its lowest level since July 2012. The company outlook index turned negative as well, declining from 9.6 to -2.2.
Labor market indicators remained mixed. The employment index has been in positive territory so far in 2013 and moved up to 6.3 in April. Twenty percent of firms reported hiring new workers compared with 14 percent reporting layoffs. The hours worked index pushed further negative, from -2.4 to -6.5.
Price pressures abated in April. The raw materials price index dropped from 19.1 to 2.5, posting its lowest reading since last July. The finished goods price index dipped to -3 after posting positive readings throughout the first quarter. The wages and benefits index edged down from 18.5 to 17.7, although the great majority of manufacturers continued to note no change in compensation costs. Looking ahead, 34 percent of respondents anticipate further increases in raw materials prices over the next six months, while 21 percent expect higher finished goods prices.
Expectations regarding future business conditions fell markedly in April. The index of future general business activity fell 22 points to -6.7, its first negative reading in five months. The index of future company outlook also plunged, dropping from 21.6 to 6. Indexes for future manufacturing activity fell slightly this month.
Source: Dallas Fed
Summary of all Federal Reserve Districts Manufacturing:
Richmond Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Kansas Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Dallas Fed (hyperlink to reports):
Philly Fed (hyperlink to reports):
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New York Fed (hyperlink to reports):
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
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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