For the 8th month of the last 9, the Empire Manufacturing missed expectations. Tumbling to its lowest since December (despite the apparent let-up in the conventional scapegoat for every data miss in the past quarter: "harsh weather"), this is the biggest miss since Jan 2013. The average workweek slowed significantly, but the overall index was modestly saved by a push higher in 'hope' as the six-months-forward index jumped back to Feb highs. Perhaps most concerning, given the supposed pent-up demand that we have been told to expect when the weather picked up, was the tumble in new orders to their lowest since November.
The April 2014 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity was flat for New York manufacturers. The headline general business conditions index slipped four points to 1.3. The new orders index fell below zero to -2.8, pointing to a slight decline in orders, and the shipments index was little changed at 3.2. The unfilled orders index remained negative at -13.3, and the inventories index dropped ten points to -3.1. The prices paid index held steady at 22.5, indicating continued moderate input price increases, and the prices received index rose to 10.2, pointing to a pickup in selling price increases. Employment indexes showed a modest rise in employment levels and a slight increase in the average workweek. Indexes for the six-month outlook continued to convey a good deal of optimism about future conditions, and the capital expenditures index climbed seven points to 23.5, its highest level in several months (ZH: LOL).
Business Activity Flat
Business activity was flat for New York manufacturers, according to the April 2014 survey. The general business conditions index slipped four points to 1.3, with 26 percent of respondents reporting that conditions had improved over the month and 24 percent reporting that conditions had worsened. The new orders index dipped into negative territory, falling six points to -2.8—a sign that orders were slightly lower over the month. The shipments index was little changed at 3.2, pointing to a small increase in shipments, and the unfilled orders index remained negative at -13.3. The delivery time index fell six points to -9.2, indicating that delivery times quickened. The inventories index fell ten points to -3.1, suggesting a slight decline in inventory levels
In other words: current conditions decline again, but everyone is hopeful about the future (unclear why - they have been hopeful for the past 5 years and... nothing yet), and of course, everyone is certain capex will pick up any minute now, as others - not them - begin spending.