Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region advanced moderately in November following a slight pullback in October, according to the Richmond Fed’s latest survey. All broad indicators—shipments, new orders and employment—landed in positive territory. Other indicators were mixed, however. Capacity utilization was virtually unchanged, while backlogs fell further from its October reading. Moreover, the gauge for delivery times steadied, while finished goods inventories grew at a slightly quicker pace and growth in raw materials edged lower.
Hmmm... what does the internal set of data tell us about these numbers?
First, capacity utilization is still negative, so that is not improving. Employees showed a modest improvement (+3 .vs. -5) but workweek improvement decreased (+3 to +2.) Finished good inventories increased.
The big surprise was that prices paid dropped a bunch, from 3.21 to 1.99 while prices received softened less, from 1.99 to 1.72. In other words, the spread came in, which is net-positive for margins.
I'll call this modestly good, in line with what the headline appears to show.
Where We Are, Where We're Heading (2013) - The annual 2013 Ticker
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