Business activity indices for New York and Philadelphia released simultaneously on Thursday morning show ongoing expansion in August, easing worries of a decline. While the US/China trade war has had a major negative impact on manufacturing, the latest report showed results well above expectations.
- The Empire State Manufacturing Survey came in at 4.8 compared to 2.5 expected.
- The Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey posted a reading of 16.8 compared to 8 expected.
- While both readings are still down from July results, they remain in solid growth territory overall, with anything below 0 considered to be contraction.
The latest manufacturing reports indicate that there may be some fight left in the struggling industry, as both surveys showed results well above market expectations. In New York, new orders and shipments saw expansion despite concerns that tariffs would hold both components back. An increase in input prices slowed during the month, while selling prices remained relatively flat.
However, respondents voiced less optimism about the future. 42.6% predicted stronger conditions, while 16.9% saw weakened, a 25.7 point drop in sentiment from the last survey. Hiring remains negative, with an improvement from July results.
In Philadelphia, most underlying components saw growth. New orders rose by 7 points, although shipments dropped by 6. Unfilled orders and delivery times gauges were both in positive territory, indicating strong activity. Hiring in the area slowed significantly, and the number of companies reporting higher staff numbers dropped -11% to 25% overall.
— quanto (@livequanto) August 15, 2019
"New orders increased after declining for the prior two months, and shipments continued to expand," said the New York Fed.
"Unfilled orders fell, delivery times were steady, and inventories increased. The employment and average workweek indexes were both slightly below zero, pointing to sluggishness in labor market conditions."
The Philadelphia Fed stated that manufacturing had continued to expand in the region, adding that "general activity, shipments, and employment indicators decreased from their readings last month, but the indicator for new orders increased."
Gold prices have fallen today amid a barrage of economic data, most of which indicates strength in the US economy. With strong retail sales and manufacturing data, as well as jobless claims that remain near record lows, the demand for a safe-haven asset such as gold has diminished slightly on the day.
Spot gold last traded at $1,511.48/oz, down -0.29% with a high of $1,523.24/oz and a low of $1,509.88/oz.