|General Business Conditions Index - Level||5.00||2.00 to 7.00||3.09||-1.19|
The first indication on May conditions in the manufacturing sector is soft, as indications have been all year. The Empire State index came in at 3.09, below what were already weak Econoday expectations for 5.00. Shipments look respectable at 14.94 but are way ahead of new orders, at only 3.85, and even further ahead of backlog orders which are in deep contraction at minus 11.46. Employment growth is down as is the 6-month outlook, both pointing to a lack of optimism.
Price readings in this report stand out, pointing to even less pressure than in April with input cost inflation very subdued, down nearly 10 points to 9.38, and with virtually no price traction at all for finished goods, at only 1.04.
The manufacturing sector, hurt in part by weak exports, looks to be more and more of a drag at a time when economic growth is supposed to be on a springtime rebound. Next indication on the May manufacturing sector will be next Thursday with the Philly Fed report. Later this morning the industrial production report will offer the first definitive data on the April manufacturing sector.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
The Empire State manufacturing survey offers the first glimpse of the month's manufacturing activity and has, like the factory sector itself, been flat going all the way back to the third quarter. No better is expected for May with the consensus calling for a pathetic plus 5.00.
The New York Fed conducts this monthly survey of manufacturers in New York State. Participants from across the state represent a variety of industries. On the first of each month, the same pool of roughly 175 manufacturing executives (usually the CEO or the president) is sent a questionnaire to report the change in an assortment of indicators from the previous month. Respondents also give their views about the likely direction of these same indicators six months ahead.
Investors track economic data like the Empire State Manufacturing Survey 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 won't generate inflationary pressures. The Empire Manufacturing Survey gives a detailed look at New York state's manufacturing sector, how busy it is and where things are headed. Since manufacturing is a major sector of the economy, this report has a big influence on the markets. Some of the Empire State Survey sub-indexes also provide insight on commodity prices and other clues on inflation. The Federal Reserve closely watches this report because when inflation signals are flashing, policymakers can reset the direction of interest rates. As a consequence, the bond market can be highly sensitive to this report. The equity market is also sensitive to this report because it is the first clue on the nation's manufacturing sector, reported in advance of the Philadelphia Fed's business outlook survey.