|General Activity Index||-11.0||-13.0 to -9.5||-4.9||-12.7|
The Dallas Fed's general activity index is in contraction for an 11th consecutive month, at minus 4.9 for November which is, however, improved from October's minus 12.7. The Econoday consensus was calling for an 11.0 point decline.
Order readings are also negative, at minus 1.6 for new orders, which is a 6 point improvement, but at minus 7.3 for the growth rate of new orders which is little changed from October and in the negative column for the 13th month in a row.
On the plus side is a second straight increase for production, up 4 tenths to 5.2. And readings on the business outlook are steady to higher.
But price data in the report are pushing further into negative ground with finished goods prices at minus 12.1 for an 11th straight negative reading, underscoring the deflationary effects of low energy prices on the Texas economy.
This report rounds out what is a flat to negative run of regional indications for the nation's manufacturing sector during November, a sector that continues to be hurt by weak export demand and low prices.
Market Consensus Before Announcement
Look no farther than to the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey for evidence on how severely low oil prices are affecting the energy sector. The general activity index came in at a very weak minus 12.7 in October and not much is expected for November where the consensus is minus 11.0. Regional results for November have been soft to mixed and another big decline for this report would not improve the outlook for the month's manufacturing 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.