Richmond Fed: Manufacturing Remained Soft in April

April 28, 2015

by Doug Short

The Fifth District includes Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, the District of Columbia and most of West Virginia. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is the region's connection to the nation's Central Bank.

The complete data series behind the latest Richmond Fed manufacturing report (available here) dates from November 1993. The chart below illustrates the 21st century behavior of the diffusion index that summarizes the individual components.

The April update shows the manufacturing composite at -3, up from -8 last month. Above zero indicates expanding activity; below zero indicates contraction. Today's composite number was a tick below the Investing.com forecast of -2.

Because of the highly volatile nature of this index, the chart below includes a 3-month moving average, now at -3.7, to facilitate the identification of trends.

Here is a snapshot of the complete Richmond Fed Manufacturing Composite series.

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Here is the latest Richmond Fed manufacturing overview.

Manufacturing activity remained soft in April, according to the most recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Shipments, order backlogs, and the volume of new orders declined, although at a slower pace compared to last month. Manufacturing employment grew mildly, while the average workweek increased and wages rose slightly.

Here is a somewhat closer look at the index since the turn of the century.

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Is today's Richmond composite a clue of what to expect in the next PMI composite? We'll find out when the next Manufacturing ISM Report on Business is released.

Because of the high volatility of this series, we should take the data for any individual month with the proverbial grain of salt.

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