Friday, July 15, 2005

Manufacturing Improving, Inflation Decelerating, Sentiment Rising

- Empire Manufacturing for July rose to 23.9 versus estimates of 10.0 and a reading of 10.5 in June.
- The Producer Price Index for June was unchanged versus estimates of a .4% increase and a .6% fall in May.
- The PPI Ex Food & Energy for June fell .1% versus estimates of a .1% rise and a .1% gain in May.
- Industrial Production for June rose .9% versus estimates of a .4% increase and a .3% gain in May.
- Capacity Utilization for June rose to 80.0% versus estimates of 79.6% increase and 79.4% in May.
- Preliminary Univ. of Mich. Consumer Confidence for July rose to 96.5 versus estimates of 95.0 and a reading of 96.0 in June.

BOTTOM LINE: Empire Manufacturing unexpectedly rose in July to its highest level this year as orders picked up and inventories shrank. The optimism component of the index for the next 6 months rose to 47 from 34 in June. The current orders index rose to 19.2, the highest since January. The measure of current shipments increased to 20.9 from 1 in June. The gauge of prices paid for materials fell to 21.6 in July, the lowest since December 2003. The index of expected prices paid six months from now fell to 28.4 from 44.4. Finally, the index of hiring expectations over the next six months rose to 23.9 this month from 14.7 in June.

US producer prices were unchanged in June, pulled lower by discounts at GM, as well as cheaper food and computers. Excluding food & energy, core raw materials prices fell 4.3% from last year, the most since May 2004. Food prices fell 1.1%, the largest drop since July 2004. Computer prices fell .8% after declining 4.8% last month.

US industrial production rose twice as much as expected last month, the most since Feb. 2004. Capacity Utilization rose to the best level since December 2000. Automakers resumed production after scaling back earlier this year to trim their inventories.

US consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose in July to the highest level this year led by stable employment prospects and rising home values. Consumers have become accustomed to rising gasoline prices, which reached a record last week. The expectations index, based on optimism about the next one to five years, increased to 86.6, the highest since December. The fact that consumer sentiment rose even with the London bombings, record gas prices and hurricanes in Florida bodes well for future readings.

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