The latest reading on Philly Fed manufacturing declined to the lowest level in over two years. The weakness in the gauge is yet another possible indication of a slowing economy. The disappointing data appears to be part of a larger trend as some key data points have seen significant declines in recent weeks.
According to marketwatch.com, the latest reading on manufacturing in the region sank to a seasonally adjusted reading of 9.4 from a November reading of 12.9. Consensus estimates were looking for a reading of 14. The latest data represents the lowest reading of the gauge since August 2016.
Shipments had their worst showing in 27 months while the indexes for new orders and employments rose. The prices-paid index declined slightly to a still-robust reading of 38 while the prices-received index rose from 21.9 to 26.2.
The Big Picture
The data released today is certainly a disappointment and may also point to more economic weakness ahead. Of note is the fact that the gauge has been trending lower since hitting a peak of 34.4 in May. Today’s reading is a fresh low and the data could continue to see declines in the months ahead. Any reading above 0 indicates improving conditions, however, the recent trend to the downside cannot be denied and may ring some alarm bells.
The disappointing data could be attributed to numerous factors. Higher interest rates, a stronger dollar and the ongoing war over trade to name a few. As the global slowdown intensifies, the negative trend being seen recently in manufacturing may stay intact. The Philly Fed miss comes on the heels of other disappointing manufacturing data that appears to be taking hold across multiple regions.
The gold market is sharply higher in early action today, having finally punched through previous resistance at the $1252 October highs. As of this post, spot gold is up $4.45 per-ounce at $1256.55. The gold market is getting a boost today on several fronts, including a weaker dollar index and concerns over global growth. Yesterday, the Federal Reserve raised rates again by 25 basis points as expected. The central bank did adjust its forecast for next year, however, and now anticipates two rate hikes instead of three.
Although the Fed’s commentary appears to be considered more on the dovish side of the ledger, it does not seem to be dovish enough to put investors’ concerns over a global slowdown at ease. Increasing risk aversion along with a lower dollar and dovish Fed could keep the gold market on the offensive in the months ahead.