Comerica Bank’s Texas Index Ticks Up

DALLAS, TX (STL.News) Comerica Bank’s Texas Economic Activity Index increased in October to 140.4.  October’s index reading was 45 points, or 47 percent, above the index cyclical low of 95.5.  The index averaged 135.2 points for all of 2018, 6.3 points above the average for 2017.  September’s index reading was revised to 139.7.

The Comerica Bank Texas Economic Activity Index improved again in October, after rebounding in September.  The Texas Index has not experienced a back-to-back monthly decline since May and June of 2017.  The results of the nine components of the Texas Index were mixed in October.  The four positive components were nonfarm employment, housing starts, house prices and state sales tax revenue.  The five negative components in October were unemployment insurance claims (inverted), industrial electricity demand, drilling rig count, total state trade and hotel occupancy.  The Texas rig count has been on a declining trend since mid-2018.  The most recent weekly rig count data, through December, offers hope that the decline in drilling activity slowed down at year end. Stability, and firmer prices, in the oil patch will be a positive for the Texas manufacturing sector.  The now-resolved 6-week-long GM/UAW strike also weighed on the Texas manufacturing sector this fall.  The most recent manufacturing survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows that statewide manufacturing activity conditions improved in December.  The expected signing of the Phase 1 trade deal with China is also positive news for Texas, as well as the passage of the USMCA trade deal in the House of Representatives.  We expect the Senate to ratify the USMCA early this year, but there is no date set for the vote at this time.

The Texas Economic Activity Index consists of nine variables, as follows: nonfarm payroll employment, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, house price index, industrial electricity sales, Texas rotary rig count, total trade, hotel occupancy and sales tax revenue.  All data are seasonally adjusted.  Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values.  Total index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.