Manufacturing activity ramped up in parts of the Midwest in March, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which reported the highest reading in its monthly manufacturing activity index in six years. The results came days after the U.S. stock market plummeted more than 1 percent, led in part by dropping manufacturing company shares.
The index’s March growth, to a level of 20, followed a five-and-a-half-year high of 14 for the month of February, while the report’s future employment index hit its highest mark in the survey’s history, at 43, up from 30 in February. (The Fed calculates the indexes by subtracting the percentage of survey participants who report a decrease in a certain area from the proportion who note an increase.)
The Kansas City Fed bank, which presides over Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado Eastern Missouri and Northern New Mexico, was alone in reporting an increase in manufacturing activity among Fed districts that had released reports on the sector for March, as Fed banks in New York and Philadelphia recently noted drops in industry activity for their regions. The Dallas and Richmond, Virginia Fed banks would report theirs the following week.
The news followed precipitous drops in major stock market indices Tuesday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and Nasdaq Composite Index (IXIC) both suffered their worst trading day since October after months spent soaring to record highs. The S&P 500 (GSPS) exhibited a similar decline.