The numbers: Two U.S. regional gauges of manufacturing sentiment showed strength in April, according to data released Thursday.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve manufacturing index jumped to a reading of 50.2 in April from a revised 44.5 in the prior month. This is highest level in almost 50 years. Economists had expected a reading of 42 after the initial reading for March of 51.8, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of economists.
The New York Federal Reserve’s Empire State Index, meanwhile rose to a reading of 26.3 in April from 17.4 in March, the New York Fed said. That’s the highest reading since October 2017. Economists had expected a reading of 20, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions.
What happened: The Philly Fed index is based on a single-stand alone question about business conditions, unlike the Empire survey which are composites based on components. In April, the Philly Fed components were also strong.
Price pressures were evident in both reports. In New York, input prices hit the highest level since 2008 while selling prices hit a record. In Philadelphia, prices slipped only a bit after reaching a 40-year high in March.
|EMPIRE April||EMPIRE March||PHILLY FED April||PHILLY FED March|
|General Business conditions||26.3||17.4||50.2||44.5|
|Number of employees||13.9||9.4||30.8||27.4|
Big picture: Manufacturing remains a bright spot in the pandemic. The two regional Fed surveys are used by economists to gauge the strength of the national ISM factory index, which will be released on May 3. Last month, the ISM index jumped to 64.7%, its highest level since December 1983.
Market reaction: U.S. stocks
were set to move higher on Thursday as the economic data, including retail sales and jobless claims, was strong across the board.