Buried in the Empire Fed manufacturing data is the forward expectations for Prices Paid and Prices Received. Taken together, somewhat obviously, they reflect businesses views of their margin expectations for the future. For seven of the last nine years, this future margin expectation has risen from mid-year into the end of the year (whether hope-driven or real fundamentals is unclear), but this year, the picture is very different. For the first time since 2007, future margin expectations have plunged into year-end as expectations for prices-paid have notably risen relative to expectations for prices received. Though the sample is small, the last time we saw such a huge divergence from the seasonal tendency for margin expectations was followed by an equity market reaction many would prefer not to remember.
The lower pane shows the implied margin expectations from the Empire Fed survey. Notice the pattern into year-end...
which is highlighted more specifically here - the blue line is the 10 year average seasonal tendency for the margin expectation (a fall into mid-year and rise into year-end). This year saw the same pattern into mid-year and then a collapse from June to November (Red line)... quite notably different.