New Orders and Production for Houston Manufacturing Improve

(Houston, Texas) – According to Houston area supply chain executives, overall economic activity in Houston expanded in November for the sixth month. Non-durable goods manufacturing joined services in pointing to expansion. Durable goods manufacturing, while improving, continued to report contraction.

The Houston Purchasing Managers Index fell 0.8 points to 52.4 during the month. Sales/new orders and lead times, two of the three underlying indicators that have a strong direct correlation with the economy, moderated somewhat but continue to point to strong expansion. Employment, the third indicator with a strong positive correlation, continues to show economic weakness. The sales/new orders index fell 1.5 points in November to 59.4. The lead times index fell 1.6 points to 52.6. The employment index rose 0.4 points to 47.6. Finished goods inventory, the underlying indicator that has the strongest inverse correlation with economic activity, rose 2.2 points to 50.3, showing a very modest contraction signal.

The three-month forecast for the Houston PMI rose 2.5 points to 55.5. This was driven by strengthening production and prices paid indices offset modestly by weakening in the sales/new orders index. These indices have a strong direct correlation with economic activity at the three-month forecast horizon.

On an industry specific basis transportation, wholesale trade, accommodations and foods services, and health care reported expansion. Durable goods manufacturing reported contraction at a slower pace. All other sectors reported near neutral. The three-month forecast predicts strong improvement for all sectors primarily due to the current strength of the production and sales/new orders indices. As noted previously, this is dependent on the severity of the current pandemic.

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