The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reported that manufacturing activity continued to expand strongly in February, building on solid growth seen over the past year. The composite index of general business conditions increased from 16 in January to 17 in February, a four-month high. Many of the key underlying data points also reflected faster growth for the month, including new orders (up from 14 to 16), production (up from 16 to 21), shipments (up from 14 to 24), employment (up from 18 to 23) and the average workweek (up from 2 to 11). Forty percent of respondents said new orders increased in February, with 24 percent citing reduced sales. At the same time, exports slowed somewhat but remained positive for the third straight report (down from 6 to 2). Read More
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that manufacturing activity accelerated once again in February, continuing to expand at healthy rates in the first two months of 2018. The composite index of general business activity rose from 22.2 in January to 25.8 in February. To illustrate just how much this measure has reflected strong growth of late, the composite index averaged a rather robust 26.5 over the past 15 months. (It averaged just 1.1 in the 15 months prior to that.) In February, the data were mixed. New orders (up from 10.1 to 24.5) and hiring (up from 16.8 to 25.2) both improved, but shipments (down from 30.3 to 15.5) and the average workweek (down from 16.7 to 13.7) slowed, even as all of these indices indicated solid gains in February. Read More
Manufacturing activity in the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s district eased somewhat in February but remained strong overall. In the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the composite index of general business conditions declined from 17.7 in January to 13.1 in February. While this was the fourth straight deceleration in the headline index, off from the three-year high of 28.8 in October, the pace of expansion has remained decent overall, averaging 26.9 over the past 14 months. In February, the underlying data were mixed. New orders (up from 11.9 to 13.5), employment (up from 3.8 to 10.9) and the average workweek (up from 0.8 to 4.6) each picked up in the latest data, but shipments (down from 14.4 to 12.5) and inventories (down from 13.8 to 4.9) slowed a little.. Read More
The Census Bureau said that new durable goods orders rose 2.9 percent in December, extending the 1.7 percent gain seen in November. The increase in both months stemmed largely from strong defense and nondefense aircraft and parts sales, jumping 55.3 percent and 15.9 percent in December, respectively. It is important to note that aircraft orders can be highly volatile from month to month. Excluding transportation equipment, new durable goods orders were up 0.6 percent in December, increasing for the sixth straight month. Read More
The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity in its district continued to expand in January, even as growth eased for the second straight month. The composite index for the general business assessment declined from 20 in December to 14 in January, pulling back once again from November’s all-time high in the survey’s 34-year history (30). The bottom line is that manufacturers in the region see relatively strong expansions in activity as 2018 begins, continuing the trend of decent growth experienced for much of 2017. New orders (unchanged at 16) expanded at the same pace on net in January as seen in December, but other key measures decelerated somewhat. This included shipments (down from 24 to 15), capacity utilization (down from 16 to 13), employment (down from 20 to 10) and wages (down from 8 to 2). Wages (up from 22 to 24) picked up, expanding rather strongly for the month—another sign of continued tightening in the labor market. Read More
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that manufacturing activity began 2018 on a solid note, even with a little easing in several measures in January. The composite index of general business activity declined from 27.9 in December to 22.2 in January, which was its lowest level since August but continued to reflect optimism overall. (Note that these figures reflect a new seasonal adjustment update for all past data points.) To illustrate the improvements in manufacturing sentiment over the past year, the headline index averaged 27.4 in 2017, up from 4.9 in 2016, and this measure has indicated expanding levels of activity for 20 straight months. In December, the underlying data were mixed. Shipments (up from 23.9 to 30.3), the average workweek (up from 12.6 to 16.7) and raw material prices (up from 27.8 to 32.9) accelerated somewhat for the month; whereas, new orders (down from 28.2 to 10.1) and employment (down from 19.7 to 16.8) softened. Read More
Manufacturing activity in the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s district eased somewhat in January but remained strong overall. In the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the composite index of general business conditions declined from 19.6 in December to 17.7 in January. (Note that these figures reflect a new seasonal adjustment update for all past data points.) While this was the third straight deceleration in the headline index, off from the three-year high of 28.1 in October, the pace of expansion has remained robust, averaging 20.6 over the past eight months.
The underlying indicators reflected slower, but still encouraging, growth. This included continuing solid growth for new orders (down from 19.0 to 11.9) and shipments (down from 23.5 to 14.4), but much softer expansions in the labor market variables of employment (down from 22.9 to 3.8) and the average workweek (down from 9.3 to 0.8). On the downside, prices for raw materials (up from 29.7 to 36.2) accelerated once again to an 11-month high, with nearly 40 percent of respondents saying that input costs were higher in January. Read More