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Economy in Brief

U.S. Richmond Fed Index Improves
by Tom Moeller January 24, 2012

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond reported that its Composite Index of Manufacturing Sector Activity improved during January to 12 from 3 in December. The latest was the highest level since March but compared unfavorably to the levels of Q1'11 and Q4'10. The latest m/m gain was led by greatly improved shipments & new orders, as well as higher employment. The index of prices paid also rose moderately but remained down sharply from last year's May high.

Service sector activity did not show the same bounce as did manufacturing. The index of revenues slipped m/m to 18 but remained well up from the negative values of last year. The index for the number of employees, however, advanced to its highest since May. Within the service sector, the retail index of revenues made up a December decline and advanced to its highest level in twelve months. The number of employees index rose moderately but was still well off its 2011 highs. In the nonretail sector, the index fell m/m to 17 but remained well above the negative values of this past October. The employees index also slipped but was up sharply from the summer's negative values. Pricing power in services diminished m/m but still was near its strongest since 2006.

These seasonally-adjusted Richmond Fed figures cover activity in the Mid-Atlantic States of Maryland, North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The data is available in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Richmond Federal Reserve Jan Dec Nov Jan'11 2011 2010 2009
Manufacturing-Sector Survey (Composite Index) 12 3 0 17 4 11 -11
 Shipments 17 3 1 23 3 12 -10
 Number of Employees 4 -4 0 14 7 7 -16
 Prices Paid (Annualized by Respondents, %) 2.53 1.55 3.42 2.94 3.85 1.95 0.95
Service-Sector Survey (% Increasing Revenues) 18 22 6 16 6 1 -19
 Retail Subsector 23 4 23 46 -0 -1 -16
 Non-Retail 17 24 11 9 8 2 -20
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