This morning the Dallas Fed released its Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey (TMOS) for March. The latest general business activity index came in at 21.4, down from 37.2 in February. All figures are seasonally adjusted.

Here is an excerpt from the latest report:

Texas factory activity continued to expand in March, albeit at a markedly slower pace than last month, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 15 points to 12.7, signaling a deceleration in output growth.

Perceptions of broader business conditions remained positive on net, but the share of firms reporting an improvement declined from last month. The general business activity index fell 16 points to 21.4, and the company outlook index declined 12 points to 19.6. While both of these March readings represent the lowest this year, they are on par with last year’s average indexes and far above their postrecession average levels.

Expectations regarding future business conditions remained optimistic in March. The indexes of future general business activity and future company outlook slipped to 32.0 and 30.9, respectively, but both remained significantly above their average readings. Other indexes for future manufacturing activity showed mixed movements but remained highly 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.