Of the four Federal Reserve districts which have released their March manufacturing surveys – all are in expansion. A complete summary follows.

Analyst Opinion of Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey

This survey remains in positive territory with new orders significantly slowing and unfilled orders also slowing – but both in positive territory. This was a weaker report than last month.

The expectations from Bloomberg / Econoday was 26.0 to 38.5 (consensus 30.9), and the reported value was 12.7. From the Dallas Fed:

Texas factory activity continued to expand in March, albeit at a markedly slower pace than last month, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 15 points to 12.7, signaling a deceleration in output growth.

Other indexes of manufacturing activity also remained positive but posted double-digit declines in March. The new orders and growth rate of orders indexes fell to 8.3 and 3.8, respectively. The capacity utilization index dropped to 9.6, and the shipments index plunged 23 points to 9.3. Although these indexes are down notably from their February readings, they remain well above their postrecession averages.

Perceptions of broader business conditions remained positive on net, but the share of firms reporting an improvement declined from last month. The general business activity index fell 16 points to 21.4, and the company outlook index declined 12 points to 19.6. While both of these March readings represent the lowest this year, they are on par with last year’s average indexes and far above their postrecession average levels.

Labor market measures suggested growth was weaker for employment and workweek length. The employment index came in at 10.8, down eight points from February. Twenty percent of firms noted net hiring, compared with 9 percent noting net layoffs. The hours worked index moved down to 9.4.

Price and wage pressures remained elevated in March. The raw materials prices index ticked up to 41.4, its highest reading since mid-2011. The finished goods prices index edged down to 18.5. The wages and benefits index retreated nearly 10 points to 22.9, reversing the 10-point increase seen last month. Even so, the index remained above its 2017 average and well above its postrecession average.

Expectations regarding future business conditions remained optimistic in March. The indexes of future general business activity and future company outlook slipped to 32.0 and 30.9, respectively, but both remained significantly above their average readings. Other indexes for future manufacturing activity showed mixed movements but remained highly positive.

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