US: Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey

Thu Aug 20 09:00:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous
General Business Conditions Index - Level 7.5 5.0 to 10.5 8.3 5.7

That sigh you hear is one of relief, that Monday's historic plunge in the Empire State report is probably a fluke. The Philly Fed's index, which is very closely watched, posted a gain for August and not a huge plunge. The general business conditions index came in at a stronger-than-expected 8.3 vs July's 5.7. Shipments lead the report at a very strong plus 16.7. Order data show less strength, with new orders at 5.8 in August vs 7.1 in July and with unfilled orders showing a slight month-to-month decline at minus 1.0. A positive in the report is a respectable monthly gain for employment to 5.3 vs July's contraction of minus 0.4. The 6-month outlook is also a plus, up 1.6 points to a solid 43.1. The early view on the August factory is thankfully mixed. Watch tomorrow for the manufacturing PMI flash.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
The Philadelphia Fed report suddenly burst higher in June to 15.2 but then came back quietly in July to 5.7. Forecasters see a 7.5 reading for August, one that would point to respectable growth for the mid-Atlantic manufacturing sector.

The general conditions index from this business outlook survey is a diffusion index of manufacturing conditions within the Philadelphia Federal Reserve district. This survey, widely followed as an indicator of manufacturing sector trends, is correlated with the ISM manufacturing index and the index of industrial production.

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 Philly Fed survey, 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. The Philly Fed survey gives 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. Some of the Philly Fed sub-indexes also provide insight on commodity prices and other clues on inflation. The bond market is highly sensitive to this report because it is released early in the month and is available before other important indicators.