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Economy in Brief

Manufacturing Activity in Kansas City Fed District Slows in November
by Sandy Batten  November 19, 2020

• Growth continued though at a slower pace than in October.

• Increases in orders, production and employment slowed.

• Expectations for six months ahead also ebbed slightly.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported that its manufacturing sector business activity index slipped to 11 in November from 13 in October. The headline figure remained well above the all-time low of -30 posted in April.

The ISM-Adjusted Index (NSA) slipped to 53.9 in November from 56.2 in October, still well above the critical 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. It also remained well above the low of 37.6 in April

The slowdown in current conditions measures was relatively broad-based. New orders fell to 19, its lowest level since July. Production slipped to 20. Shipments and employment each plunged in November with shipments dropping to 3, its lowest reading since May, and employment falling to 1, its lowest reading since June.

On the inflation front, the prices received index for finished products rebounded some in November, rising to 7 after having fallen to 4 in October, though that remained up from the deflationary readings seen earlier this year. The raw materials index remained elevated at 32, down only slightly from its 34 reading in October. The October reading was the highest since November 2018.

The expectations-in-six months composite reading edged down to 20 in November from 21 in October though it remained up sharply from -19 in March. Expected new orders and production were unchanged in November. Expected shipments rose to 29, its highest reading since January 2018, while expected employment slipped.

Expectations of prices received rose to 30 in November from 26. Expectations of prices paid for raw materials fell to 50 in November from 55 in October, but the October reading was the highest since September 2018.

The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time and raw materials inventory indexes. The diffusion indexes are calculated as the percentage of total respondents reporting increases minus the percentage reporting declines. The November survey was conducted during the six-day period from November 10-16, 2020 and included 109 responses from plants in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, northern New Mexico and western Missouri. Data for the Kansas City Fed Survey can be found in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Kansas City Federal Reserve Manufacturing Survey (SA) Nov Oct Sep Nov'19 2019 2018 2017
Conditions Versus One Month Ago (% Balance)     11 13 11 -2 0 17 14
ISM-Adjusted Composite Index (NSA) 53.9 56.2 54.9 49.4 50.0 58.9 56.7
   New Orders Volume 19 26 23 -4 -3 17 17
   Number of  Employees 1 9 7 -7 -1 17 15
   Production 20 23 18 -2 2 19 17
   Prices Received for Finished Product 7 4 12 3 7 22 7
Expected Conditions in Six Months 20 21 18 16 12 28 26
   New Orders Volume 24 24 23 28 17 35 35
   Number of Employees 17 22 19 7 15 33 39
   Production 31 31 25 27 19 40 40
   Prices Received for Finished Product 30 26 34 17 26 42 27
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