Dallas Fed Region Activity Bad as Expected

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey was as bad as expected in relation to Bloomberg Econoday Consensus of -9.0.

The Dallas Fed rounds out a full run of negative indications on the September factory sector with the general activity index remaining in deeply negative ground at minus 9.5. New orders are at minus 4.6 which, however, is an 8 point improvement from August. Production is actually in positive ground at 0.9.

Other readings include a decline in the workweek and the fifth straight contraction for employment. Price readings show little change for inputs but, like other reports, contraction for finished prices.

The Texas economy has been depressed all year by the energy sector while the nation’s factory sector continues getting hurt by weak foreign demand and strength in the dollar.

Additional Details

Here are some additional details from the Dallas Fed Survey.

Texas factory activity was essentially flat in September, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, remained near zero (0.9), suggesting output held steady for a second month in a row after several months of declines.

Other indexes of current manufacturing activity increased in September, but some remained in negative territory. The new orders index posted a second negative reading but rose 8 points to -4.6, and the growth rate of orders index also remained below zero but rose to -4.3. The shipments index pushed to around zero from -3, and the capacity utilization index posted its first positive reading in eight months, coming in at 4.9.

Perceptions of broader business conditions remained weak in September. The general business activity index, which has been negative all year, rose 6 points to -9.5. The company outlook index plunged to -10.3 in August but recovered somewhat this month, climbing to -5.2.

Labor market indicators reflected employment declines and shorter workweeks. The September employment index posted a fifth consecutive negative reading, falling to -6.1. Twelve percent of firms reported net hiring, while 18 percent reported net layoffs. The hours worked index fell markedly from 0.6 to -11.1, suggesting a decline in workweek length from August.

Price and wage pressures were mixed in September. The raw materials prices index came in near zero—suggesting stable input prices—after a -8 reading last month. The finished goods prices index remained negative at -10.9, although it was up from a multiyear low of -15.7 in August. Meanwhile, the wages and benefits index remained positive but edged down to 15.6.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock