|Bus Activity Index||-10.0||-12.0 to -9.0||-20.8||-16.0|
Contraction in the energy sector continues to pull the Dallas Fed report into deeply negative ground, to a headline minus 20.8 vs minus 16.0 and minus 17.4 in the prior two months. Production shows a turn for the worse, at minus 13.5 vs April's minus 4.7, as does employment, at minus 8.2 vs plus 1.8. New orders remain deeply negative, at minus 14.1 vs minus 14.0. Prices paid also fell further though the decline is easing, to minus 1.7 from minus 11.2.
The regional Fed reports all point to another slow month for the manufacturing sector which is struggling with energy contraction, especially evident in this report, as well as weakness in exports.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
The energy sector is hurting badly and is concentrated in the Dallas Fed manufacturing region where the index has been in heavy negative territory the last three months, at minus 16.0, minus 17.4, and minus 11.2. Forecasters see some improvement for May, but not very much with the consensus at minus 10.0.
The Dallas Fed conducts this monthly survey of manufacturers in Texas regarding their operations in the state. Participants from across the state represent a variety of industries. In the latter half of the month, the questions for the manufacturing survey are electronically transmitted to respondents and answers are collected over a few days. About 100 manufacturers regularly participate in the Dallas Fed survey, which began collecting data in mid-2004. Participants are asked whether various indicators have increased, decreased or remained unchanged. Answers cover changes over the previous month 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.
Investors track economic data like the Dallas Fed 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 will not generate inflationary pressures. The Dallas Survey gives a detailed look at Texas' manufacturing sector, how busy it is and where it is headed. Since manufacturing is a major sector of the economy, this report can have a big influence on the markets. Some of the survey indexes also provide insight on inflation pressures -- including prices paid, prices received, wages & benefits, and capacity utilization. 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 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.