“Texas factory activity remained weak and changed little from April to May,” according to the monthly business activity survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, released yesterday.

“Most indicators of future activity continued to improve, suggesting manufacturers expect better conditions over the next six months,” it said.

The general business conditions index narrowed to negative 21.5 in May from negative 31.6 in April.

The production index fell to negative 12.0 from negative 8.9, and capacity use decreased to negative 18.0 from negative 12.9, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders narrowed to negative 14.0 from negative 14.8, while growth rate of orders index slid to negative 23.0 from negative 22.7.

Unfilled orders slipped to negative 21.0 from negative 19.8 in the prior survey, while the volume of shipments slumped to negative 14.0 from negative 7.9, and delivery times widened to negative 20.0 from negative 14.9. The materials inventory index held at negative 26.0, and the finished goods inventory declined to negative 29.0 from negative 26.0. Prices paid for raw materials moved to negative 28.0 from negative 34.7, while prices received for finished goods remained at negative 30.0. Wages and benefits slipped to negative 6.0 from zero, while the number of employees index grew to negative 27.0 from negative 37.4. The average workweek index increased to negative 23.2 from negative 27.0, and the capital expenditures index improved to negative 17.1 from negative 18.0.

As for future outlook — six months from now — the general business conditions index improved to positive 10.3 from negative 4.0 last month, the production index increased to 19.2 from 13.0, and capacity use rose to 17.2 from 15.0, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders grew to 29.3 from 19.2, while growth rate of orders index grew to 20.2 from 14.1.

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