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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kansas City Fed: Regional Manufacturing contracted slightly in March

by Calculated Risk on 3/28/2013 11:00:00 AM

This is the last of the regional manufacturing surveys for March, and the Kansas City region was the only area showing contraction. From the Kansas City Fed: Tenth District Manufacturing Survey Fell at a Slower Rate

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released the March Manufacturing Survey today. According to Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the survey revealed that Tenth District manufacturing activity fell at a slower rate, but producers were considerably more optimistic about future months.

“Factory activity rebounded somewhat in March, although overall levels still remain sluggish. Contacts continued to cite uncertainty about healthcare costs and the overall economy as reasons for lower growth,” said Wilkerson. “However, the outlook for future activity was notably more positive than in previous months.”

The month-over-month composite index was -5 in March, up from -10 in February ... The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time, and raw materials inventory indexes. ... The production index increased from -11 to -1, and the shipments and new order indexes recorded levels of 0, the highest value in seven months. In contrast, the employment index posted its lowest level since July 2009, and the new orders for exports index also fell.

Most future factory indexes improved considerably in March. The future composite index jumped from 4 to 14, and the future production, shipments, new orders, and order backlog indexes also increased. The future employment index rose from 2 to 12, its highest level in six months.
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 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).

The average of the five regional surveys was at the highest level since April 2012.

The ISM index for March will be released Monday, April 1st, and these surveys suggest a positive reading.