April's economic activity appears mixed, according to business surveys published by four regional Fed banks. Although all four updates reflect continued growth, three of the four indicate a slower pace of expansion in April vs. March. Only the central Atlantic region via the Richmond Fed indicated faster growth for the month. Here are excerpts from each report.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's headline index fell significantly in April, though it still indicated a modest increase in activity. The general business conditions index dropped fourteen points to 6.6, suggesting that while growth continued, the pace slowed over the month. The new orders index was little changed at 6.5, indicating a modest increase in orders, and the shipments index fell twelve points to 6.4, indicating a slower pace of growth for shipments. The unfilled orders index fell six points to -7.2, and the delivery time index dropped three points to 4.8. The inventories index was little changed at 1.2, suggesting that inventory levels held steady.
Manufacturing firms responding to the April Business Outlook Survey indicated that regional manufacturing activity expanded modestly this month. The survey's broad indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments all remained positive but fell slightly from their readings last month. The indicator for current employment, however, showed a notable improvement. Price pressures were only slightly more widespread this month. The survey's broad indicators of future activity remained at relatively high readings, and firms were more optimistic about their plans for hiring over the next six months.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released the April Manufacturing Survey today. According to Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the survey revealed that growth in Tenth District manufacturing eased further in April, but activity remained expansionary and well above year-ago levels. Factories in our region report continued growth, especially in employment, but at somewhat slower rates than in previous months, when unseasonably warm weather may have helped boost activity said Wilkerson. Expectations for the rest of the year notched down a bit as well, but remained positive.
Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region advanced somewhat faster in April following slightly slower growth in March, according to the Richmond Fed's latest survey. A significant increase in the shipments component pushed the overall index higher, while employment grew at a rate above March's pace and growth in new orders held nearly steady. Most other indicators also suggested solid activity. District contacts reported capacity utilization grew more quickly, while backlogs grew more slowly. In addition, manufacturers reported that delivery times lessened, while inventories grew at a somewhat higher rate.