|General Business Conditions Index - Level||4.75||3.00 to 6.00||-14.92||3.86|
Out of the blue, the Empire State index has plunged deeply into negative column this month, to minus 14.92 in August vs plus 3.86 in July. This is by far the weakest reading of the recovery, since April 2009. New orders, which had already been weak in this report, fell from July's minus 3.50 to minus 15.70 for the weakest reading since November 2010. Backlog orders, which had also been weak, came in at minus 4.55 from minus 7.45. Shipments, in the weakest reading since March 2009, fell to minus 13.79 from positive 7.99.
Last week's industrial production report, boosted by the auto sector, offered hope but today's report is a reminder that weak exports and weakness in the energy sector are stubborn negatives for the factory sector. Today's results scramble the outlook for Thursday's Philly Fed report which was expected to show moderate strength.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
The Empire State Report only showed a small gain in July and isn't expected to show much lift in August either, at a consensus 4.75. New orders in this report have been in the negative column in four of the last five months. Another weak report would raise talk of a lower-than-expected Philly Fed report on Thursday.
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.
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