The December Philly Fed Index came in much better than expected, rising to 8.1 vs. expectations of -3.0.
The index is a survey of manufacturers in the Philly region, whereby they answer a survey on business conditions for the last month.
The survey is considered to be a good one, and frequently it’s paid attention to in a way that other regional Fed surveys (like, say, Richmond) aren’t.
Anyway, one of the big fears is that pre-Cliff uncertainty is grinding business investment to a halt.
This survey says no: Every category, from new orders to shipments to the number of employees was up significantly from the previous month.
Some of it may be Sandy giveback, but the fact that the turnaround was far better than what people expected implies a briskness in business that’s out of step with the popular meme about the economy going into paralysis.
Here’s the key table. Note