Friday, September 16, 2011

More Manufacturing Data and Consumer Sentiment

First, we thought we must provide a summary of the Philadelphia's Fed business outlook survey, which we did not include in yesterday's lone post.

The survey was disappointing, similar to Empire State's. It came in at -17.5 versus a -10.0 consensus. More businesses upped their employee count which was positive, but was offset by pretty much no change in average employee workweek. In addition, surprisingly, more businesses said their inventory levels were higher.

As was with the Empire State's, the forward looking survey was more positive. More businesses expect more new orders and shipments. However, at the same time, they expect a dip in inventories, which tells us uncertainty remains going past the next six months for these manufacturers; and the increase in number of employees and average employee workweek (as indicated in the forward survey) will likely be temporary.

Now ... how are the consumers feeling? Well, that's what University of Michigan (with that great win against Notre Dame last week) and Thomson/Reuters tell us with their survey of consumers. The preliminary results for the month of Sept. (released this morning) were better than expected; 57.8 versus a 56.3 consensus. This was also up from August's 55.7. Although this represents some improvement, we must note that it is significantly below last year's 66.6 preliminary reading.  Consumers may be thinking that the glass is half full, but is it?

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