- The ISM Manufacturing Index registered 47.6% in August
- The Beige Book is published by the 12 Federal Reserve Districts
- The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil has risen more than 30% since mid-June
Top Three Market Headlines
Business Surveys Reflect Mixed Conditions: Business activity in the U.S. manufacturing sector continued to slow in August, according to surveys of executives conducted by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The ISM Manufacturing Index recorded 47.6% for the month, up 1.2 percentage points from July but still below the 50% threshold that differentiates expansion of activity from contraction. This marked the tenth consecutive month of slower business conditions in the sector. Conversely, activity in the services sector continued to expand, as the ISM Services Index registered 54.5% for August, up slightly from July and above 50% for the eighth straight month.
Beige Book Signals Modest Growth: The Federal Reserve last week released its most recent Beige Book, a compilation of anecdotal information about current economic conditions collected eight times a year by the 12 Federal Reserve Districts. According to the report, "economic growth was modest during July and August" across most of the 12 Districts. One area of strength was consumer spending on leisure travel, though other retail spending categories continued to slow, with some Districts suggesting that consumers may have exhausted their savings. Job growth was reported to be restrained across the nation, while inflation continued to moderate.
Oil Price Rally Continues: Crude oil prices continued rising last week, with the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil closing at $87.51, up 2.3% on the week. This followed a 7.2% jump in the prior week, and was the 9th week out of the last 10 that prices increased. In all, the price of WTI has surged more than 30% from its recent-cycle low of $67.12 on June 12th. Last week's advance was spurred by an announcement by Saudi Arabia and Russia that they would extend through year-end previously-announced voluntary production cuts totaling 1.3 million barrels of crude per day.