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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kansas City Fed: Regional Manufacturing "Activity Expanded at a Slower Pace" in January, Weaker Energy Sector

by Calculated Risk on 1/22/2015 11:00:00 AM

From the Kansas City Fed: Tenth District Manufacturing Activity Expanded at a Slower Pace

Tenth District manufacturing activity expanded at a slower pace in January, but producers’ expectations for future activity remained at solid levels. Most price indexes were lower than last month, especially for finished goods prices.

The month-over-month composite index was 3 in January, down from 8 in December and 6 in November. The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time, and raw materials inventory indexes. The overall slower growth was mostly attributable to declines in some types of durable goods production, particularly electronics, machinery, and metal products, some of which is likely due to lower energy activity. Looking across District states, the weakest activity was in energy-dependent Oklahoma. ... the employment index posted a five-month low.
We saw weaker activity in some energy sector-related manufacturing in January, and that pulled the overall index down somewhat”, said [Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City]. “But firms still reported modest overall growth in regional factory activity".

Future factory indexes continued to remain stable at mostly solid levels. The future composite index was unchanged at 19 ...
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Two more regional Fed manufacturing surveys for January will be released this month (the Dallas and Richmond Fed surveys). It appears we are starting to see some impact from lower oil prices.

The over all impact from the decline in oil prices will be positive for the US economy, but as Tim Duy noted a couple of weeks ago about oil prices:
the negative impacts will be fairly concentrated and easy for the media to sensationalize, while the positive impacts will be fairly dispersed. We all know what is going to happen to rig counts, high-yield energy debt, and the economies of North Dakota and at least parts of Texas. "Kablooey," I think, is the technical term. Easy media fodder. Much more difficult to see the positive impact spread across the real incomes of millions of households, with particularly solid gains at the lower ends of the income distribution. This will be most likely revealed in the aggregate data and be much less newsworthy.
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