Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Richmond Fed: "Fifth District Manufacturing Firms Reported Sluggish Growth in March"

by Bill McBride on 3/27/2018 10:13:00 AM

From the Richmond Fed: Fifth District Manufacturing Firms Reported Sluggish Growth in March

Fifth District manufacturing expanded at a slower pace in March, according to the most recent survey results from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The composite index dropped from a particularly strong reading of 28 in February to 15 in March as each of the three components (shipments, new orders, and employment) fell. However, for each of these variables, a larger share of firms predicted growth in six months than had in February. Firms reported weaker growth in capital expenditures in March but saw an uptick in growth of business services expenditures.

The survey's employment measures suggested slower growth in March. While the availability of skills index increased in March, it remained in negative territory indicating that skills shortages persisted. Firms anticipate stronger growth in all employment measures in the coming months.

District manufacturers saw higher growth in prices paid in March, but growth in prices received slowed slightly. However, firms expected to see accelerating price increases for both prices paid and received in the next six months.
emphasis added
This was the last of the regional Fed surveys for March.

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 (yellow, through March), and five Fed surveys are averaged (blue, through March) including New York, Philly, Richmond, Dallas and Kansas City. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) PMI (red) is through February (right axis).

Based on these regional surveys, it seems likely the ISM manufacturing index will be solid again in March, but probably lower than in February (to be released Monday, April 2nd).