Thursday, September 16, 2010

Philly Fed Index shows contraction in September

by Bill McBride on 9/16/2010 10:00:00 AM

Here is the Philadelphia Fed Index: Business Outlook Survey

The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from a reading of -7.7 in August to -0.7 in September. The index, which has been negative for two consecutive months, suggests that growth has stalled over the last two months (see Chart). Indexes for new orders and shipments continued to indicate weakness this month: The new orders index fell 1 point, remaining negative for the third consecutive month, and the shipments index decreased 3 points, remaining negative for the second consecutive month.

Firms reported near steady employment this month but lower average work hours for existing employees. The percentage of firms reporting increases in employment (18 percent) narrowly edged out the percentage reporting decreases (16 percent). The index for employment was slightly positive this month, increasing 5 points from its negative reading in August. Indicative of weaker activity, more firms reported declines in average work hours for existing employees (30 percent) than reported increases (8 percent).emphasis added
Philly Fed Index Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the Philly index for the last 40 years.

This index turned down sharply in June and July and was negative in August and September (indicating contraction).

These surveys are timely, but noisy. However this is further evidence of a slowdown in manufacturing. This was slightly worse than the consensus view of a reading of 3.8 (slight expansion).