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Kansas City Fed Archives - Shopfloor

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Continued to Expand Modestly in July

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded for the eighth straight month and continued to expand at a modest pace in July. With that said, the composite index of general business conditions edged down from 11 in June to 10 in July. The underlying data were mixed. On the positive side, new orders (up from 4 to 10) grew at a faster pace for the month to its best reading since March, and hiring (unchanged at 15) remained strong. Yet, other measures slowed, including production (down from 23 to 4) and the average workweek (down from 7 to 1). Nonetheless, shipments (down from 23 to -2) slipped into contraction for the first time in one year, and exports (down from 3 to -2) dropped for only the second time this year. The sample comments tended to mirror these differing views, ranging from signs of optimism in terms of sales to other respondents citing caution on capital spending and lingering challenges in identifying quality labor candidates. Read More

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Continued to Expand Modestly in June

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded for the seventh straight month and continued to expand at a modest pace in June. The composite index of general business conditions increased from 8 in May to 11 in June, its highest reading since March’s six-year high (20). In general, manufacturers report notable improvements in activity relative to this time last year, even as sentiment has pulled back somewhat from stronger numbers at the beginning of 2017. Encouragingly, several of the key indices in May shifted strongly higher, including shipments (up from 3 to 23), production (up from -1 to 23), employment (up from 11 to 15) and the average workweek (up from 1 to 7). A couple of the sample comments cited difficulties in hiring new workers. On the other hand, new orders (down from 9 to 4) and export orders (down from 4 to 3) slowed a little in this report but remained positive indicators. Read More

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded for the Sixth Straight Month, up Modestly in May

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded for the sixth straight month even as it pulled back once again from March’s six-year high. The composite index of general business conditions edged higher, up from 7 in April to 8 in May. In general, manufacturers report notable improvements in activity relative to this time last year, despite some easing in activity in many measures in this latest survey. Along those lines, the underlying data points were mixed in May. Growth for new orders (up from 8 to 9), employment (up from 9 to 11) and the average workweek (up from -4 to 1) accelerated slightly for the month; whereas, shipments (down from 11 to 3) and production (down from 12 to -1) each softened. It was the first contraction in output since August. On an encouraging note, exports (unchanged at 4) grew for the fourth consecutive month.   Read More

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Pulled Back in April from March’s Nearly Six-Year Highs

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reported that manufacturing activity pulled back in April from March’s levels, which were the highest since March 2011. The composite index of general business conditions declined from 20 in March to 7 in April, even as it expanded for the fifth straight month. In general, manufacturers report improvements in activity, as noted in the selected comments; yet, they also mentioned the “slow first quarter” and some lingering global headwinds. In some ways, we might have expected some easing in sentiment from the euphoric measures in the prior release. Indeed, many of the underlying data points decelerated sharply in April from those highs, including new orders (down from 32 to 8), production (down from 37 to 12), shipments (down from 35 to 11) and employment (down from 13 to 9). Two other figures were mixed. Exports picked up very slightly for the month (up from 2 to 4), whereas the average workweek narrowed for the first time since November (down from 13 to -4). Read More

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded in February at Fastest Rate Since May 2011

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded in March at its fastest rate since May 2011. The composite index of general business conditions rose from 14 in February to 20 in March, expanding for the fourth straight month. As such, manufacturing conditions have continued to improve after notable challenges over the past two years from global headwinds and reduced commodity prices, especially for crude oil. Outside of the headline number, the underlying indices also suggested relatively very robust gains in new orders (up from 26 to 32), production (up from 11 to 37) and shipments (up from 16 to 35). There was some easing for the employment (down from 17 to 13), the average workweek (down from 15 to 13) and exports (down from 9 to 2), but each of these indices remained promising overall. Exports, for instance, were positive for only the second time in the past 16 months. Read More

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded in February at Fastest Rate Since June 2011

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded in February at its fastest rate since June 2011. The composite index of general business conditions rose from 9 in January to 14 in February, expanding for the third straight month. As such, manufacturing conditions have continued to improve after notable challenges over the past two years from global headwinds and reduced commodity prices, especially for crude oil. Outside of the headline number, the underlying indices also suggested relatively healthy gains in new orders (up from 20 to 26), production (down from 20 to 11), shipments (down from 20 to 16), employment (up from 6 to 17) and the average workweek (up from 9 to 15), even with some easing in a couple of these measures. Exports (up from -5 to 9) were also stronger in the month, with positive growth for the first time in 15 months.

At the same time, manufacturers continue to be quite upbeat about the next six months, mirroring sentiment seen in other recent regional reports. The forward-looking composite index edged up from 27 to 29, its highest reading in the survey’s 16-year history. To illustrate the figure, 59 percent of respondents expect production to be higher moving forward, with 18 percent seeing declines in output. More than half also anticipate increased sales and shipments, with one-third predicting more hiring and 39 percent planning more capital spending. The exports data were also encouraging, particularly given that they have been a major drag for the Kansas City Fed region over the past couple years, with that index up from 4 to 13, a level not seen since June 2013.

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Slowed in November but Continued to Expand Slightly

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity slowed in November but continued to expand ever-so-slightly. The composite index of general business conditions declined from 6 in October to 1 in November; yet, it was also the third straight month with this measure positive after two years of struggles. Indeed, manufacturers in the district have faced tremendous challenges due to global headwinds and reduced commodity prices, especially for crude oil. The underlying data in November mirrored the headline figure, with easing expansions for new orders (down from 14 to 6), production (down from 18 to 9) and shipments (down from 20 to 7). Export growth (down from 3 to zero) was stagnant in November after slightly improving in October for the first time since January. Read More

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Continued to Improve in October

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reported continued expansion of manufacturing activity in October, improving for the second straight month. The composite index of general business conditions was unchanged at 6 in October, its fastest pace of growth since December 2014. Indeed, manufacturers in the district have struggled over much of the past two years on global headwinds and reduced commodity prices, especially for crude oil. The underlying data in October reflected better growth for several of the key indicators, new orders (up from 12 to 14), production (up from 15 to 18) and shipments (up from 16 to 20). Exports (up from -4 to 3) were also slightly positive, increasing for the first time since January. Read More

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Rebounded a Little in August

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Manufacturing activity rebounded in the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s district in September, expanding after two months of declines. The composite index of general business conditions increased from -4 in August to 6 in September, its fastest pace of growth since December 2014. Indeed, there were rather strong gains seen for new orders (up from -7 to 12), production (up from -7 to 15) and shipments (up from -4 to 16) to support the improved sentiment seen in this survey’s headline number. To be fair, though, the sector also continues to have a number of challenges. Most notably, that includes exports (up from -10 to -4), which contracted for the eighth consecutive month. Manufacturers in the Kansas City region – not unlike their peers in other districts – have had to grapple with a strong U.S. dollar and weaknesses abroad, both of which have dampened international demand.

The labor market data were mixed. On the one hand, hiring activity (up from -10 to -3) remains soft, even with some easing in the rate of decline in September. The index for the number of employees has been negative now for 21 straight months. At the same time, employers appear to be expanding hours worked (up from 4 to 5), with that measure positive for the fourth consecutive report. Sample comments tended to highlight challenges with attracting new talent, highlighting the skills gap seen in the sector.

Meanwhile, manufacturers continue to be somewhat upbeat about the next six months. The forward-looking composite index edged down from 11 to 10, but it has now been positive each month since April. At least 40 percent of respondents expect sales and output to grow moving forward, which is somewhat promising. Yet, those completing the survey were also less hopeful for hiring, capital spending and export growth over the next six months, showing how cautious business leaders are right now, with expected growth remaining negative.

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Contracted Again in July

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After slightly expanding for the first time since January 2015 in June, manufacturing activity in the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank’s district contracted once again in July. The composite index of general business conditions dropped from 2 in June to -6 in July. This region has been challenged for much of the past two years by pullbacks in the energy sector and the stronger U.S. dollar, and the sample comments suggest that post-Brexit anxieties might have lowered sentiment in this release’s data. New orders (down from 4 to -5), production (down from 12 to -15) and shipments (down from 10 to -17) all returned to negative territory for the month. One-third of all respondents saying that their sales were lower in July, with 28 percent suggesting that sales were higher and 37 percent noting no change. At the same time, the rate of decline somewhat for both hiring (down from -4 to -5) and exports (down from -1 to -7). Interestingly, the average workweek (up from 1 to 7) widened in this report. Read More