First you saw dismal numbers from the Empire Manufacturing report from the New York Federal Reserve. Now you are getting to a slightly different take from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve in the so-called Philly Fed report. These reports have garnered more attention because the federal government shutdown prevented many government economic reports from being issued.
The Philly Fed’s October Business Outlook Survey suggested continued growth with positive readings in general business activity, new orders, shipments and employment. The report’s indicators of future activity also suggested continued optimism for growth over the next six months.
The broadest measure of manufacturing conditions fell to 19.8 in October from 22.3 in September. While this is a drop, Bloomberg and Dow Jones were both looking for a sharper drop to 15.0 in October, based on weakness seen in other reports during the government shutdown. The index has now been positive for five consecutive months.
Labor market indicators showed improvement this month, and the price indexes indicated moderate pressure. Some 36% of firms reported increased activity this month, while only 16% of firms reported decreased activity. Other points were as follows:
- The demand for manufactured goods, as measured by the current new orders index, increased six points to 27.5, its highest reading since March 2011.
- Shipments continued to expand as the index fell one point to 20.4, but that was on the heels of a 22 point increase last month.
- The diffusion indexes for inventories, delivery times and unfilled orders were all positive and higher than last month.
- The current employment index increased five points to 15.4. This was the highest reading since May 2011.
- The percentage of firms reporting increases in employment was 23%, versus only 8% of firms reporting decreases.
- Input price pressures were slightly less widespread this month as the prices paid index fell four points to 21.7.
- The prices received index increased two points to 14.2, with some 21% of firms reporting higher prices and 7% reporting lower prices.
Stocks are not really reacting to this news. The profit taking after Wednesday’s huge compromise rally still leads the charge. The S&P 500 Index is down just over two points, while the DJIA is down worse by almost 90 points because the price-weighted dominance of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) after its poor earnings report.