Kansas City Fed District manufacturing activity expanded at a slower pace in January, but producers' expectations for future activity remained at solid levels. Most price indexes were lower than last month, especially for finished goods prices.
The month-over-month composite index was 3 in January, down from 8 in December and 6 in November. The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time, and raw materials inventory indexes.
The overall slower growth was mostly attributable to declines in some types of durable goods production, particularly electronics, machinery, and metal products, some of which is likely due to lower energy activity. Looking across District states, the weakest activity was in energy-dependent Oklahoma. In contrast, nondurable goods producers reported a slight increase in production, especially for food and plastics products.
Most other month-over-month indexes were also down compared to last month. The production, shipments, and new orders indexes moved into negative territory for the first time in over a year, and the employment index posted a five-month low. The order backlog index plunged from 5 to -20, and the new orders for exports index decreased from 0 to -7. The finished goods inventory index continued to rise somewhat, and the raw materials inventory index moved up from 7 to 12.
Year-over-year factory indexes were lower than the previous month. The composite year-over-year index edged down from 11 to 9, and the production, new orders, shipments, and order backlog indexes all posted their lowest levels in over a year. The employment index moderated from 18 to 11, and the capital expenditures index eased further. The new orders for exports index fell into negative territory, while both inventory indexes increased slightly.
Future factory indexes continued to remain stable at mostly solid levels. The future composite index was unchanged at 19, while the future production, shipments, and new orders indexes inched higher. In contrast, the future order backlog index dropped from 17 to 3, and the future employment index eased from 30 to 24. The future capital expenditures index moderated from 25 to 16 after increasing last month. The future finished goods inventory index fell from 18 to 7, and the future raw materials inventory index also decreased slightly.
Most price indexes slowed modestly in January.
Overall, the Kansas City report is hinting that slower global growth is impacting U.S. manufacturing.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
Tenth District manufacturing activity continued to expand at a moderate pace in December, and producers' expectations for future activity remained at solid levels. Most price indexes grew at a slower pace, especially materials prices.
The month-over-month composite index was 8 in December, up slightly from 7 in November and 4 in October. The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time, and raw materials inventory indexes. The slight increase in activity was mostly attributed to durable goods producers, particularly for electronics, aircraft, and machinery products, while nondurable goods production remained sluggish. Most other month-over-month indexes were also slightly higher than last month. The production and employment indexes were unchanged, but the shipments, new orders, and order backlog indexes increased markedly.
However, the new orders for exports index fell from 8 to 0.
The monthly Survey of Manufacturers provides information on current manufacturing activity in the Tenth District. The accumulated results also help trace longer term trends. The survey monitors manufacturing plants selected according to geographic distribution, industry mix, and size. Survey results reveal changes in several indicators of manufacturing activity, including production and shipments, and identify changes in prices of raw materials and finished products. Answers cover changes over the previous month, changes over the past twelve months, and expectations for activity six months into the future. The breakeven point for each index is zero with positive numbers indicating growth and negative numbers reflecting decline. (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)
Investors track economic data like the Kansas City Survey of Manufacturers to understand the economic backdrop for the various markets. The stock market likes to see healthy economic growth because that translates to higher corporate profits. The bond market prefers a moderate growth environment that will not generate inflationary pressures. The survey gives a detailed look at Tenth District's manufacturing sector, how busy it is and where it is headed. Some of the survey indexes also provide insight on inflation pressuresincluding prices paid, prices received, wages & benefits, and capacity utilization. The equity market is also sensitive to this report because it is an early clue on the nation's manufacturing sector, reported in advance of the ISM manufacturing index and often in advance of the NAPM-Chicago index.