“Texas manufacturing activity was still soft in February,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, released yesterday.

The general business conditions index dipped to negative 21.4 in February from negative 20.7 in January.

The production index decreased to 7.1 in February from 17.7, while capacity use dropped to 7.9 from 10.6, the Dallas Fed reported. Volume of new orders declined to zero from 1.7, while growth rate of orders index slid to negative 8.0 from negative 6.2.

Unfilled orders improved to negative 3.6 from negative 9.8 in the prior survey, while the volume of shipments slid to 7.1 from 7.2, and delivery times dropped to negative 5.3 from negative 2.7. The materials inventory index increased to negative 1.8 from negative 6.2 and the finished goods inventory decreased to negative 5.4 from negative 2.7. Prices paid for raw materials rose to 44.3 from 36.6, while prices received for finished goods grew to 15.9 from 12.5. Wages and benefits dropped to 20.3 from 30.9, while the number of employees index jumped to 9.7 from 7.1, the average workweek index fell to negative 7.0 from negative 3.6, and the capital expenditures index reversed to positive 4.5 from negative 4.4.

As for the six-months-ahead future outlook, the general business conditions index improved to negative 11.0 from negative 15.3 last month, the production index increased to 33.3 from 27.7, while capacity use soared to 29.7 from 20.5, the Fed said.

Unfilled orders dropped to negative 5.4 from negative 2.7 in the prior survey, while the volume of shipments gained to 31.5 from 26.1 and delivery times held at negative 2.7.

Prices paid for raw materials rose to 49.6 from 46.4, while prices received for finished goods remained at 22.5. Wages and benefits rose to 36.0 from 33.9, the number of employees index inched up to 15.3 from 15.2, the average workweek index jumped to 5.5 from 1.8, and the capital expenditures index surged to positive 8.2 from negative 0.9.

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