Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stat of the Day: Richmond Manufacturing Off the Charts

Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region saw a substantial pickup in April. The index hit a reading of 30 after posting barely positive numbers of 6 in March and 2 in February. This region was one of the first to turn positive back in 2009 but it had almost flat lined lately.

Just about every measure saw marked improvements. Volume of new orders soared from 10 to 41 and shipments went from 5 to 30. Encouraging signs to see employment pick up for basically the first time since early 2008 (other then a small bump up in Oct '09).

This measure has a limited history and it is not as widely followed as the Empire, Philly, or Chicago districts but it is an earlier glimpse into the current month. If this is any indication of April in general, the overall numbers will be just off the charts.

  • Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region expanded for the third straight month, according to the Richmond Fed's latest survey. All broad indicators — shipments, new orders and employment — landed in positive territory, with manufacturers noting their first increase in worker numbers since October 2009. Other indicators were also positive. Backlogs increased for the first time since August 2009 and capacity utilization hit an all-time high reading since the inception of the measure. Vendor lead-time grew at a considerably quicker rate — the highest reading since August 2004, indicating slower delivery times, and inventories increased at a somewhat quicker pace.
  • In April the seasonally adjusted composite index of manufacturing activity — our broadest measure of manufacturing — jumped 24 points to 30 from March's reading of 6. Among the index's components, shipments moved up 25 points to 30, new orders leaped 31 points to finish at 41, and the jobs index advanced 13 points to end at 13.


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