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Texas Manufacturing Expansion Expanded in August; Trade Uncertainty Clouds Business Outlook

By Dave Sebastian

 

Manufacturing activity in Texas expanded at a faster pace in August, according to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey.

The August production index in the survey rose to its highest reading in nearly a year at 17.9, up from 9.3 in July. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas conducts the monthly survey, which asks Texas business executives about conditions in the industrial sector.

The new orders index rose to 9.3 from 5.5 in July, which the survey said suggests a faster rate of manufacturing expansion. The growth rate of orders index was mostly unchanged at 1.8 compared with 2.7 the previous month, according to the survey.

The general business activity index rose to positive territory for the first time in four months at 2.7, compared with minus 6.3 in July. The survey said August saw perceptions of broader business conditions improving.

The company outlook index also rose, to 5, after three months below zero. But as survey respondents lamented tariffs and trade uncertainty, the index measuring uncertainty regarding companies' outlooks nearly doubled to 18.6, an above-average reading compared with last month's 9.7.

Labor markets showed slower growth in employment and work hours in August, the survey said. The employment index remained positive but retreated to 5.5, a level closer to average, from 16 in the prior month. Survey results indicate 18% of firms noted net hiring, while 12% noted net layoffs. The hours worked index inched lower to 4 from 6.6.

Survey respondents across industries expressed concerns regarding the trade situation.

"We are still very worried about the economy in general and our industry in particular," a respondent working with printing and related support activities said. "We implemented a price increase that was way overdue in April and have gotten very little pushback on it."

 

Write to Dave Sebastian at dave.sebastian@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 26, 2019 11:22 ET (15:22 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.