Thursday, February 18, 2010

Philly Fed Index Shows Expansion in February

by Bill McBride on 2/18/2010 10:00:00 AM

Two of the key numbers to watch are new orders and inventories. The new orders index increased sharply indicating more demand. However the inventory index turned positive, and rose to the highest level since September 2007, suggesting the positive contributions to inventory changes might be ending.

Here is the Philadelphia Fed Index released today: Business Outlook Survey.

The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from a reading of 15.2 in January to 17.6 this month. The index has now remained positive for six consecutive months (see Chart). There was a notable increase in the current new orders index suggesting an improvement in demand for manufactured goods — the new orders index increased 20 points. The current shipments index increased 9 points. The current inventory index increased 5 points, to its first positive reading since September 2007.

Firms’ responses continued to suggest that labor market conditions have been stabilizing in recent months. For the third consecutive month, more firms reported an increase in employment than reported declines. The current employment index edged 1 point higher and remains at its highest reading since October 2007. The workweek index was 2 points lower but remained slightly positive for the fourth consecutive month.
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.

The index has been positive for six months now, after being negative or zero for 21 straight months.