This morning’s Philly Fed survey showed a better than expected headline figure, but continued weakness overall. New orders were up marginally, employment made decent gains and prices continued to decline. Overall, it was better than expected but consistent with muddle through:
“Responses to the Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity remained weak in July. The survey’s indicators for activity and new orders, which had turned negative last month, recovered somewhat but are at very low positive readings. Firms indicated that employment grew modestly while the average workweek lessened. Indexes for prices show a continuing trend of moderating price pressures. The broadest indicator of future activity improved markedly this month, rebounding from its lowest reading in 31 months in June.
Indicators Suggest Activity Is Near Steady
The survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased to 3.2 from -7.7 (see Chart). The demand for manufactured goods, as measured by the current new orders index, improved from last month but suggests flat demand: The index rose 8 points to a reading of zero, and the percentage of firms reporting increases was equally matched by the percentage reporting decreases (28 percent). The current shipments index remained slightly positive but virtually unchanged from June.
Firms’ responses suggest a slight improvement in the labor market compared to June. The current employment index increased 5 points and remained positive for the 11th consecutive month. About 22 percent of the firms reported an increase in employment, up slightly from 14 percent last month. Slightly more firms reported a shorter workweek (21 percent) than re-ported a longer one (15 percent) and the workweek index was down 7 points.
Price Pressures Show Further Moderation
Diffusion indexes for prices paid and prices received were lower this month and suggest a continued trend of moderating price pressures. The prices paid index declined 2 points, following a sharp drop of 22 points last month. Still, one-third of the firms reported higher prices for inputs this month, and 8 percent reported a decline. Only slightly more firms reported a rise in prices for manufactured goods (18 percent) than reported declines (17 percent). The prices received index decreased 3 points, its third consecutive monthly decline.”
Source: Philly Fed