Monday, December 31, 2018

Dallas Fed: "Texas Manufacturing Expands Modestly, Outlook Worsens"

by Bill McBride on 12/31/2018 10:38:00 AM

From the Dallas Fed: Texas Manufacturing Expands Modestly, Outlook Worsens

Texas factory activity continued to expand rather modestly in December, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, inched down one point to 7.3.

Other indexes of manufacturing activity also suggested modest growth in December, although demand growth picked up a bit. The capacity utilization index fell from 9.4 to 7.6, and the shipments index dipped to 6.1. Meanwhile, the new orders index moved up five points to 14.4, and the growth rate of new orders index edged up to 5.8.

Perceptions of broader business conditions turned slightly negative in December. The general business activity index plummeted 23 points to -5.1, hitting its lowest level since mid-2016. The company outlook index also fell markedly, dropping 17 points to -3.4, also a two-and-a-half-year low. More than 20 percent of manufacturers noted their outlook worsened this month.

Labor market measures suggested continued but slightly slower employment growth and longer workweeks in December. The employment index retreated five points to 11.0, a level still above average.
emphasis added
This was the last of the regional Fed surveys for December.

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

Based on these regional surveys, it seems likely the ISM manufacturing index will decline significantly in December and probably be below the consensus forecast of 58.0 (to be released on Thursday, January 3rd).