Philadelphia Fed index

Release Date: Usually released to the markets on a monthly basis, usually around the third Thursday of the new month
Release Time: At 10am US Eastern Time
Coverage: Release covers the previous month’s data for the states of Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Released By: The Philadelphia Federal Reserve bank


The Philadelphia Fed Index is a report of a monthly survey of manufacturers in the states covered by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, also known as the Third Reserve District. Participants indicate what they think will be the direction of change in overall business activity as well as individual measures of activity at their various manufacturing plants. Some of these measures of activity covers events such as: employment, new and unfilled orders, working hours, delivery times, shipments, inventories, prices paid, and prices received.

The figure is derived via a survey of about 250 manufacturers in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve district. The survey asks respondents to rate the relative level of general business conditions. The sentiment rating is usually done using the current month as compared to the previous month, and then using the expected conditions 6 months from the survey period compared with the current month.

Philadelphia Feb Business Outlook Survey
Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey questionnaire

This survey is also called the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, and has been conducted every month since May 1968.

Time of Release

The Philadelphia Fed Index is usually released to the markets on a monthly basis, usually around the third Thursday of the new month. The time of release is 10am US Eastern Time. The data is released on the website of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve bank, and also on independent news feeds from Bloomberg and Thomas Reuters.

Interpreting the Data

The Philadelphia Fed Index is a high impact news release which is tradable. This is because it is a leading indicator of the economic health in the area covered by the Philadelphia Fed Reserve bank. Businesses tend to react quickly to evolving market conditions, and any changes in the sentiment of business owners to the economic conditions will directly impact the direction of future economic activities such as hiring, expansions, new investments and wage increases.

Moreover, it is the earliest of the regional Fed Reserve surveys that is released to market participants and investors, making it a keenly watched report.

The survey results are usually calculated as the difference between percentage scores. The centerline point is usually taken as 0.0. As such, readings above 0.0 are taken as an indication of improving economic conditions and economic growth, while negative readings indicate worsening conditions and economic contraction. Usually it is best to trade the actual figure as it compares with the consensus figure. If the actual figure comes out better than the consensus figure, it is seen as USD positive. If the actual is less than the consensus, then this is seen as USD negative.

Conclusion

The Philadelphia Fed Index covers the states of Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware. Participation in the survey is voluntary. As can be seen from the questionnaire, questions cover areas such as unemployment, new orders, shipments, inventories, and prices paid.

Higher survey figures suggest that there is better economic sentiment among businesses, and that production and hiring will increase, both of which contribute to economic growth.