Beware the Ides of March ... or maybe just the next six months.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Business Outlook Survey for March was mostly unchanged from February, while the general activity index for the month hovered around zero and the indicators for new orders, shipments and employment were positive. The outlook for the next half-year took a turn for the worse, however.
New orders, which had been negative for three of the past four months, rose from -0.5 to 1.9 for March. Shipments rose from 1.7 to 6.8 and negative levels for delivery times and unfilled orders indicated shorter delivery times and fewer unfilled orders.
(For more information, click here.)Employment remained stable with 63 percent of respondents indicating steady employment levels for March. The twenty percent reporting increases was near to the 17 percent that indicated decreases.
Prices received went up 7 points. Costs increased for the region in March, as 30 percent of respondents reported higher input prices and the prices paid index increased for a second month, moving up 6 points. It had a 6-month downward trend prior to February.
For the next 6 months, the future general activity index slid 3 points, future new orders went down 4 and future shipments decreased 1 point. Future employment dropped 8 points.