US: Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index

Tue May 26 09:00:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous
level change 1 -1 to 9 1 -3

Regional Fed reports on the manufacturing sector continue to be soft with Richmond's at only plus 1 for May following two prior months of declines. New orders, after three straight declines, did rise but only to plus 2. Backlog orders, however, remain deep in the negative column at minus 10.

Employment growth is down while shipments are in contraction for a 4th month. Price readings are flat except for wages which show a big 11-point gain to 20. Wage pressures are a trigger for an FOMC rate hike and this reading, though isolated, will get the attention of the hawks at the Fed.

First it was Empire State, then the Philly Fed, then Kansas City, all showing weakness this month and now including Richmond. Data from the Dallas Fed, also released this morning, is especially weak. The manufacturing sector is having a tough time gaining momentum, held down by weak exports and contraction in the energy sector.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
The early indications on May's manufacturing activity have all been weak and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index is expected to be no exception. The Econoday consensus is calling for only the smallest gain of 1 point, still this would be up from two prior months of contraction.

This survey provides a comprehensive set of indicators of business conditions within the fifth region's manufacturing sector. The survey provides participants' knowledge of recent changes in manufacturing activity as well as insights into expected developments in six months. The data are released the fourth Tuesday of each month. The headline index is the composite for current month activity. It is a weighted average of the shipments (33%), new orders (40%) and employment (27%) indexes. (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

Investors need to monitor the economy closely because it usually dictates how various types of investments will perform. By tracking economic data such as the regional Fed surveys, investors will know what the economic backdrop is for the various markets. The stock market likes to see healthy economic growth because that translates to higher corporate profits. The bond market prefers more moderate growth so that it won't lead to inflation. These surveys give a detailed look at the 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 market behavior.