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Economy in Brief

Dallas Fed Factory Sector Activity Improves
by Tom Moeller  September 26, 2016

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported that its general activity index of factory sector activity in Texas remained negative during September. However, the figure at -3.7 was improved versus the low of -34.6 in January. The reading has been negative since 2015. The production index jumped to 16.7, the highest level since September 2014. Hiring activity also improved. The employment index of 2.3 was the first positive reading since December. Pricing power also strengthened, and the index of -0.9 for finished goods was at its highest level since December 2014. The low for the series was reached in December. Working the other way, growth in new orders deteriorated. The reading of -5.8 was down from the prior month's positive figure, but remained up from the expansion low in June.

Prospects for business activity were brighter. The reading for six months from now rose to 9.3, and has been positive since February. Offsetting this, however, was a decline in the production reading to 30.5. This reversed its sharp August rise. Optimism about the outlook for new orders also deteriorated sharply, and reversed the improvement of the prior two months. Caution also showed up in employment prospects where the six-month ahead figure of 14.5 was at the lowest level since June. Wages & benefits are expected to improve less than during all of last year. Expectations for the length of the workweek strengthened.

The diffusion indexes are calculated as the percentage of total respondents reporting increases minus the percentage reporting declines. The data can be found in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Dallas Federal Reserve Texas Manufacturing Survey (SA, Percent Balance) Sep Aug Jul Sep '15 2015 2014 2013
General Business Activity Versus One Month Ago -3.7 -6.2 -1.3 -10.3 -12.5 8.3 2.2
   Production 16.7 4.5 0.4 -0.1 -1.0 14.5 9.8
   Growth Rate of New Orders -5.8 2.1 -9.7 -3.0 -11.8 4.7 0.1
   Number of Employees 2.3 -5.0 -2.6 -8.1 -0.4 11.5 5.7
   Prices Received for Finished Goods -0.9 -1.3 -5.7 -10.3 -8.5 8.3 2.9
Business Activity in Six Months 9.3 7.0 18.4 4.6 4.1 17.4 11.0
   Production 30.5 32.8 45.2 24.6 31.1 42.7 37.1
   Future New Orders Growth Rate 19.1 27.2 34.7 15.4 20.7 31.5 25.1
   Number of Employees 14.5 21.7 18.8 4.6 14.6 28.6 23.1
   Wages & Benefits 31.2 38.1 30.0 41.8 33.2 43.1 38.2
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