Monday, December 31, 2012

Dallas Fed: Regional Manufacturing Activity "Slow Growth and Improved Company Outlook" in December

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2012 10:30:00 AM

From the Dallas Fed: Texas Manufacturing Activity: Slow Growth and Improved Company Outlook

Texas factory activity edged up in December, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose from 1.7 to 2.7, which is consistent with slow growth.

Most other survey measures also indicated manufacturing activity crept up in December. The capacity utilization index returned to positive territory with a reading of 1.8, implying utilization rates ticked up from last month. The shipments index jumped to 11.3 after a reading near zero last month. The new orders index, however, remained near zero, suggesting demand was flat in December.

Perceptions of broader business conditions improved markedly in December. The general business activity index emerged from negative territory, rising sharply to 6.8 as a result of a drop in the share of contacts reporting that conditions worsened. The company outlook index also turned positive, jumping 14 points to 9.2, its best reading since March.

Labor market indicators were flat in December. The employment index came in at -1, its lowest reading in over two years, with about 17 percent of employers reporting hiring and the same share noting layoffs. The hours worked index turned positive after two months in negative territory; however, at a reading of 1, it suggested hours worked barely changed.
This was above (edit) expectations of a reading of 1.0 for the general business activity index.

Here is a graph comparing the regional Fed surveys and the ISM manufacturing index:

Fed Manufacturing Surveys and ISM PMI Click on graph for larger image.

The New York and Philly Fed surveys are averaged together (dashed green, through December), and five Fed surveys are averaged (blue, through December) including New York, Philly, Richmond, Dallas and Kansas City. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) PMI (red) is through November (right axis).

This is the first positive reading for the average of the five Fed surveys since May.

The ISM index for December will be released Wednesday, Jan 1st, and these surveys suggest another weak reading - but probably indicating expansion (above 50).