The Richmond Fed just published the results of its regional manufacturing survey, and the numbers don’t look good.
The headline index fell to -7 in March from -6 in February.
Economists estimates the headline would jump to 4.
“Shipments and the volume of new orders declined,” reported the Richmond Fed. “Manufacturing employment remained flat, while the average workweek edged up and wages rose moderately.”
More from the Fed:
Manufacturers’ expectations moved back in line with January’s expectations. A participant commented that weather has “wreaked havoc” on demand for the past two months, but he anticipated that his company will be very busy once the weather improves. Compared to last month’s outlook, shipments and new orders were expected to grow more quickly. Additionally, manufacturers looked for faster growth in backlogs and capacity utilization. Firms anticipated slightly longer vendor lead times in the six months ahead. Survey participants also expected faster growth in the number of employees along with strong growth in wages and a pickup in the average workweek.
Raw materials and finished goods prices rose at a slower pace in March compared to last month. Manufacturers expected faster growth in prices paid and prices received over the next six months, although their outlook was below February’s expectations.
Everyone’s still trying to figure out how much of the winter economic slowdown was caused by the unusually harsh winter.
The hope is that any weakness in December through February will mean additional strength in March and the remainder of Spring.