Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook: Index Down Slightly, Outlook Continues to Improve

This morning the Dallas Fed released its Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey (TMOS) for March. The latest general business activity index dropped 7.6 points, coming in at 16.9, down from 24.5 in February.

Here is an excerpt from the latest report:

Texas factory activity increased for the ninth consecutive month in March, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose two points to 18.6, suggesting output growth picked up pace this month.

Perceptions of broader business conditions improved again this month. The general business activity index fell eight points but remained positive at 16.9, and the company outlook index was largely unchanged at 17.9. The March figures represent the sixth and seventh positive readings in a row for general business activity and company outlook indexes, respectively.

Expectations regarding future business conditions continue to improve. The indexes of future general business activity and future company outlook came in at 36.3 and 39.1, respectively, exhibiting mixed movements from their February readings but still solidly in positive territory. Most other indexes for future manufacturing activity slipped but remained positive.

Monthly data for this indicator only dates back to 2004, so it is difficult to see the full potential of this indicator without several business cycles of data. Nevertheless, it is an interesting and important regional manufacturing indicator. The Dallas Fed on the TMOS importance:

Texas is important to the nation’s manufacturing output. The state produced $159 billion in manufactured goods in 2008, roughly 9.5 percent of the country’s manufacturing output. Texas ranks second behind California in factory production and first as an exporter of manufactured goods.

Texas turns out a large share of the country’s production of petroleum and coal products, reflecting the significance of the region’s refining industry. Texas also produces over 10 percent of the nation’s computer and electronics products and nonmetallic mineral products, such as brick, glass and cement.