Texas Manufacturing Activity Remains Sluggish, According to Dallas Fed Survey

DALLAS, March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Texas manufacturing activity remained sluggish in March, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey.

The March survey can be found at:

http://dallasfed.org/data/outlook/2008/tmos0803.html .

Texas produces more than 8 percent of the total manufactured goods in the United States, ranking second behind California in factory production.

Indicators for production, capacity utilization and volume of shipments increased slightly in March but remained relatively soft, according to the survey.

The index for volume of new orders increased from zero in February to 11.8 in March. In two of the last three years, however, this index has risen much more strongly in March, suggesting this is a relatively weak reading.

Price pressures were still intensifying.

"Rising raw material costs are pushing up some finished goods prices," said Dallas Fed economist Fiona Sigalla. "Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported increases in raw materials prices in March, but only 32 percent said finished goods prices increased, indicating that producers are able to pass only some of these higher costs to selling prices."

Sixty-two percent of factories foresee higher raw materials prices in the next six months.

Respondents are still pessimistic about the level of general business activity. One-third of the business leaders said conditions had worsened since last month, pushing that index down from -21.4 to -22.7.

The company outlook continued to be better than for general business activity, but that index fell from zero in February to -5.4 in March.

During the week of March 4-7, manufacturers were asked special questions about the impact of credit conditions on their firms. A smaller share of firms sought credit in March compared to December; however, of those seeking credit, 24 percent reported difficulties in March, compared to 20 percent in December.

The Dallas Fed conducts the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey monthly to obtain a timely assessment of the state's factory activity.

Web site: http://www.dallasfed.org/

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