The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index came in at 21.8 in July compared to just 5 expected, greatly exceeding expectations following a weak result in June which saw the index dip to near negative territory at just 0.3.
- The Philly Fed for July had a reading of 21.8 vs. 5 expected, far greater than the previous month’s reading of 0.3.
- The index saw increases in all major categories including new orders, current employment, average workweek, current prices, prices paid, and future capital spending.
- The data points to unexpected strength in manufacturing as well as a possible uptick in future business investment amid difficult economic headwinds.
The index showed gains in all major categories. New orders rose 11 points, while shipments gained 8. Current employment hit the highest point since October 2017, rising 15 points to 30. The average workweek saw a 16 point increase, bringing the category to a 14-month high. Prices received climbed 9 points, bringing it back from the brink of negative territory up to 9.5. Prices paid rose 3 points to 16.1.
The diffusion index for future activity hit its highest point since May 2018 with a 17-point increase, and capital expenditure (Capex) rose 9 points to 36.9 points, the highest reading in 17 months. This category is particularly important because it’s used as a gauge to measure future business spending and investment, a crucial element of the US economy. The bump in capital expenditure bodes well for future investment and the benefits that come with it.
The manufacturing sector in general is having a good week, with the New York Fed’s Empire State manufacturing index recovering from negative territory at -8.3 to 4.6 according to a report released on Monday. Manufacturing has been hit hard by the punitive measures imposed by the US and Chinese governments throughout the course of the ongoing trade war which has seen tariffs placed on goods traded between both nations.
Businesses have struggled, with some in the process of leaving the US for more favorable economic conditions. The uptick in manufacturing may indicate a less difficult time on the horizon, although the trade war is far from resolved.
Capex intentions have picked up in July. First, we saw a modest rebound in NY Empire. Today, we see six-month capex intentions in Philly Fed Index surging to +36.9, best since early 2018. This is nothing like 2015-16; business investment holding up all things considered. pic.twitter.com/yh6Z0PpqAl
— Renaissance Macro (@RenMacLLC) July 18, 2019
Gold prices faced selling pressure following the unexpectedly strong manufacturing report. Spot gold last traded at $1,421.42/oz, up 0.09% with a high of $1,428.15/oz and a low of $1,415.47/oz. The selling pressure may have been slightly offset by an unexpected bump in initial jobless claims reported at the same time.