|General Activity Index||-9.0||-12.0 to -4.0||-9.5||-15.8|
The Dallas Fed rounds out a full run of negative indications on the September factory sector with the general activity index remaining in deeply negative ground at minus 9.5. New orders are at minus 4.6 which, however, is an 8 point improvement from August. Production is actually in positive ground at 0.9.
Other readings include a decline in the workweek and the fifth straight contraction for employment. Price readings show little change for inputs but, like other reports, contraction for finished prices.
The Texas economy has been depressed all year by the energy sector while the nation's factory sector continues getting hurt by weak foreign demand and strength in the dollar.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
No where are the effects of the oil-patch rout more evident than in the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey where the general activity index has been in contraction since the very beginning of the year. Recent price readings have been very weak. It really doesn't get any worse than this report which has been pointing to increasing drag from the energy sector.
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.
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