Texas factories increased production at a faster pace in September than the previous month, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve.
The production index rose from 7.3 to 11.5, according to the bank’s Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey, the fifth consecutive month showing an increase.
The capacity utilization index jumped 6 points to 10.7. The new orders index was off slightly at 5 while the shipments index edged lower to 10.3 from 11.4.
Texas manufacturers were more optimistic about general business conditions. The index for general business activity jumped nearly 8 points from 5.0 in August to 12.8, the highest reading in 18 months. The company outlook index crept up 0.6 to 7.9.
The September employment index was again positive at 10, with 17% of employers hiring workers compared to 7% reporting layoffs. The average workweek showed little change, the Dallas bank reported.
The raw materials price index climbed from 10 in August to 17.6 in September, its highest reading in six months. Some 38% of employers surveyed said they expect further increases in raw materials prices over the next six months, while 27% expect higher finished goods prices.
“Some of our raw material prices have fallen to a level we have not seen in several years,” one chemical manufacturer told the bank. “We believe they are at a low and will probably not remain there for very long (a few months).”