Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Picks Up the Pace in January

by Calculated Risk on 1/24/2012 10:00:00 AM

From the Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Picks Up the Pace in January; Expectations Upbeat

In January, the seasonally adjusted composite index of manufacturing activity — our broadest measure of manufacturing — increased nine points to 12 from December's reading of 3.

Labor market conditions at District plants strengthened in January. The manufacturing employment index moved up eight points to end at 4, and the average workweek indicator added one point to 4. Wage growth remained modest, matching its three-month average of 10.

In our January survey, our contacts were more bullish about their business prospects for the next six months. The index of expected shipments increased nine points to 36, expected orders gained eleven points to finish at 32, and backlogs added eight points to 14. The capacity utilization and vendor delivery times indexes each rose nine points to finish at 11 and 20, respectively. Moreover, readings for planned capital expenditures moved up eight points to finish at 15.

District manufacturers' hiring plans in January were somewhat more optimistic as well. The expected manufacturing employment index edged up three points to 20, while the average workweek indicator held steady at 7. The index of expected wages was virtually unchanged at 19.
This was above the consensus of a reading of 6. This follows the reports of somewhat faster expansion from the Philly Fed and Empire State surveys.