|General Business Conditions Index - Level||-5.00||-8.50 to -2.50||-10.74||-11.36|
Negatives are beginning to run in Empire State with the index at minus 10.74 in November, right in line with the prior four readings and well below the Econoday consensus for minus 5.00. Several components are showing extended weakness including unfilled orders, at minus 18.18 for the lowest reading of the year, and also the workweek, at minus 14.55 for a fifth straight decline and the weakest run since mid 2013. With unfilled orders down and the workweek down, it's no surprise that employment is down, at minus 7.27 for a third straight loss and the weakest streak since late 2009. And prices, even outside of energy and commodities, are not helped by weak demand with prices for final goods at minus 4.55 for a third straight decline and the longest run of contraction since early 2013.
Good news is hard to find but there is easing weakness in new orders, at minus 11.82 vs October's minus 18.91, and in shipments as well, at minus 4.10 vs minus 13.61. Still, this is the sixth straight decline for new orders and the fourth straight for shipments. Manufacturers are keeping their inventories down while delivery times, reflecting the weakness in shipments, are speeding up.
This report is the first indication on November's factory sector and it points to another run of weak regional reports, starting Thursday with the Philly Fed. The factory sector, hit by weak exports and in contraction for a full year, is becoming perhaps the economy's Achilles heal -- and also perhaps a dovish wildcard for the December FOMC.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
The Empire State report, since back in August, has been offering advance and decisive signals on the breakdown underway in the factory sector. The Econoday consensus is calling for a headline of minus 5.00 vs October's minus 11.36. New orders in this report have been in very deep trouble, at minus 18.92 in October for what was a fifth straight contraction. And manufacturers have been having a hard time keeping up production as unfilled orders have also been in deep contraction.
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.