Texas factory activity, as measured by the production index, "was flat" in April, according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, released Monday.

The general business activity index slumped to negative 15.6 in April from positive 7.4 in March.

The production index fell to negative 0.5 from positive 9.9, while capacity use dipped to 2.7 from 5.5, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders reversed to negative 4.9 from positive 8.7, while growth rate of orders index widened to negative 12.0 from negative 3.2.

Unfilled orders widened to negative 7.9 from negative 5.6 in the prior survey, while the volume of shipments decreased to negative 0.4 from positive 10.6, and delivery times dropped to negative 6.4 from positive 2.2. The materials inventory index rose to 7.7 from 2.2, the finished goods inventory decreased to 2.1 from 9.9. Prices paid for raw materials fell to 2.5 from 19.1, while prices received for finished goods sank to negative 3.0 from positive 7.2. Wages and benefits slipped to 17.7 from 18.5, while the employment index rose to 6.3 from 2.6, and the hours worked index widened to negative 6.5 from negative 2.4, and the capital expenditures index slumped to 4.2 from 13.7.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the general business conditions index fell to negative 6.7 from positive 15.5 last month, the production index decreased to 32.8 from 35.6, while capacity use fell to 29.0 from 32.7, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders slid to 32.4 from 33.8, while growth rate of orders index decreased to 18.8 from 25.8.

Unfilled orders slipped to 6.8 from 9.3, while the volume of shipments declined to 29.0 from 35.1, and delivery times narrowed to negative 2.8 from negative 2.9. Materials inventories dropped to 2.2 from 5.8, and the finished goods inventory rose to 2.2 from 1.2.

Prices paid for raw materials fell to 31.1 from 41.9, while prices received for finished goods slid to 13.4 from 23.2. Wages and benefits grew to 38.2 from 35.1, the employment index fell to 22.2 from 30.6, while the hours worked index reversed to negative 3.1 from positive 5.1, and the capital expenditures index fell to 13.4 from 18.8.

The Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey is a monthly anecdotal survey of manufacturers in Texas. Roughly 80 manufacturers regularly participate in the Dallas Fed survey, which began collecting data in May 2004.

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