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Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded at Fastest Pace Since March 2011

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded at a 79-month high in the latest survey data. The composite index of general business conditions rose from 17 in September to 23 in October, a level not seen since March 2011 and a sign that sentiment has continued to strengthen since the spring. The higher figure in October came largely from a jump in those saying that new orders (up from 10 to 27) and employment (up from 18 to 21) had both accelerated, with the hiring figure also at a 79-month high. The sample comments tended to echo the challenge of finding talent. One respondent said, “Qualified, available and reliable labor (primarily hourly) continues to be the number one issue negatively impacting our potential growth.” Read More

Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Pulled Back Slightly in October, but Outlook Remained Strong

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The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank reported that manufacturing activity in its district pulled back slightly in October, even as it continued to report expanding levels of activity overall. The composite index of general business activity declined from 19 in September—a seven-month high—to 12 in October, its lowest point since January. Even with some easing, however, the data remained encouraging. To illustrate this, the headline index has averaged 13.8 year to date in 2017, well above the average of 0.6 during the same 10-month time period in 2016. With that said, many of the key measures in October decelerated, including new orders (down from 20 to 17), shipments (down from 22 to 9), capacity utilization (down from 16 to 7), employment (down from 15 to 10) and the average workweek (down from 16 to 8). Read More

New York Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded in October at a Three-Year High

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The Empire State Manufacturing Survey expanded strongly in October, growing at a three-year high. The composite index of general business conditions jumped from 24.4 in September to 30.2 in October, a pace not seen since September 2014. Activity in the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s district was buoyed by healthy monthly improvements in shipments (up from 16.2 to 27.5) and employment (up from 10.6 to 15.6), with hiring expanding at its fastest rate in eight years. At the same time, both new orders (down from 24.9 to 18.0) and the average workweek (down from 5.7 to zero) eased. Demand remained relatively robust, however, with 32.2 percent of respondents saying that orders had increased in this report.

Meanwhile, manufacturers in the New York region remained very upbeat about the next six months. The expectations composite index rose from 39.3 to 44.8, and it has averaged 41.2 over the past 12 months. In the 12 months prior to that, the average was 27.2, illustrating the acceleration in optimism seen for much of this year. Along those lines, growth in new orders (up from 43.7 to 44.8), shipments (up from 37.0 to 43.4) and employment (up from 13.8 to 17.2) strengthened in October to decent levels, with 55.4 percent of those completing the survey anticipating more sales in the months ahead. Pricing pressures (down from 42.3 to 41.4), capital expenditures (down from 24.4 to 21.9) and technology spending (down from 17.1 to 16.4) were also expected to grow strongly over the next six months, even with each decelerating slightly in this release.

Kansas City Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded at a Six-Month High in September

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The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity expanded at a six-month high in the latest survey data. The composite index of general business conditions edged up from 16 in August to 17 in September, its highest point since February. With that said, the underlying data were mixed. On the positive side, there was continued strength in production (unchanged at 22), shipments (up from 23 to 25) and employment (up from 14 to 18). Exports (up from 4 to 6) also grew modestly. At the same time, new orders (down from 25 to 10) and the average workweek (down from 9 to 7) slowed somewhat in September, even as the pace of growth for each remained decent overall.

Meanwhile, manufacturers continued to be optimistic about the next six months. The forward-looking composite index increased from 23 to 26. Roughly half of those completing the survey expect sales, production and shipments to be higher moving forward, with 37 percent and 32 percent seeing more hiring and capital spending, respectively. Beyond those issues, 49 percent of business leaders also predict a pickup in raw material costs in the months ahead.

Durable Goods Orders Bounced Back in August, with Strong Year-Over-Year Growth

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The Census Bureau said that growth in new durable goods orders increased by 1.7 percent in August, bouncing back somewhat after dropping 6.8 percent in July. This data has been highly volatile over the past three months, largely on large swings in nondefense aircraft and parts orders, which are often bulked together surrounding major trade shows. Excluding transportation equipment, new durable goods orders were up by 0.2 percent in August, easing from the 0.8 percent gain seen in July. New durable goods orders have generally trended in the right direction over the course of the past 12 months. New durable goods have risen 5.1 percent since August 2016, or excluding transportation equipment, the year-over-year gain was 6.1 percent.   Read More

Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded More Strongly in September

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The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank said that manufacturing activity in its district expanded more strongly in September, with activity accelerating at its fastest pace since February. The composite index of general business activity rose from 14 in August to 19 in September. Overall, this report continues to reflect a manufacturing sector that has made significant progress over the past year, and in September, new orders (up from 17 to 20), shipments (up from 8 to 22), capacity utilization (up from 10 to 16) and the average workweek (up from 10 to 16) indicated relatively solid growth. At the same time, employment (down from 17 to 15) in the mid-Atlantic region slowed slightly for the month, even as hiring activity remained quite robust. Read More