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Economy in Brief

Texas Factory Sector Expansion Proceeds
by Tom Moeller  April 24, 2017

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas indicated in its Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey that the General Business Activity Index of 16.8 in April was fairly steady m/m, though it was down slightly from the earlier three months. It remained, nevertheless, near the highest level of the economic expansion. The production reading slipped, and shipments growth declined sharply. Offsetting these signs of weakness, new orders growth improved and employment growth held firm.

On the inflation front, the finished goods "prices received" indicator improved following a sharp m/m decline, while the raw materials prices index also eased. Readings for both series remained well improved versus the negative figures of 2015 and 2016. Current growth in current wages & salaries eased m/m, but remained ahead of last year.

The General Business Activity Index, Six Months Ahead, fell sharply to the lowest level in six months. Expected production and new orders both declined, and shipments eased. Expected employment and hours stabilized following earlier declines. Future wages & benefits strengthened to the highest point since early-2014.

Each index is calculated by subtracting the percentage reporting a decrease from the percentage reporting an increase. When all firms report that activity has increased, an index will register 100. An index will register -100 when all firms report a decrease. An index will be zero when the number of firms reporting an increase or decrease is equal. Items may not add up to 100% because of rounding. Data for the Texas Manufacturing Outlook can be found in Haver's SURVEYS database.

Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey (SA, % Balance) Apr Mar Feb Apr'16 2016 2015 2014
Current General Business Activity Index 16.8 16.9 24.5 -12.9 -8.8 -12.5 8.4
   Production 15.4 18.6 16.7 6.0 2.4 -1.0 14.5
   Growth Rate of Orders 5.1 3.2 2.0 0.1 -7.3 -11.8 4.7
   Number of Employees 8.5 8.4 9.6 -4.2 -4.9 -0.4 11.5
   Prices Received for Finished Goods 12.0 7.5 19.5 -6.2 -1.6 -8.5 8.3
General Business Activity Index Expected in Six Months 27.1 36.3 37.0 1.5 8.9 4.1 17.4
   Production 39.6 44.8 46.4 34.4 35.8 31.1 42.7
   Growth Rate of New Orders 30.9 38.3 39.9 22.9 24.3 20.7 31.5
   Wages & Benefits 45.6 45.0 45.0 33.9 34.8 33.2 43.1
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