Comerica Bank’s Texas Economic Activity Index increased by 0.1 points in September to 135.7. September’s index reading is 40 points, or 42 percent, above the index cyclical low of 95.5. The index averaged 128.5 points for all of 2017, 4.2 points above the average for 2016. August’s index reading was revised to 135.6.
The Comerica Bank Texas Economic Activity Index was little changed in September after dipping slightly in July and August. The three-month stall in the Texas Index over the summer is largely due to declining hotel occupancy and flat housing starts. Now as oil prices slide, the drilling rig count will likely also decline further, suppressing the headline index. Fortunately, overall job growth for the state remains positive, with October showing a strong 32,000 job gain for the month. For our September Texas Index, five factors were positive, three were negative and one was unchanged. Positives were nonfarm payrolls, unemployment insurance claims (inverted), house prices, total state trade and sales tax revenue. Negatives for the month were housing starts, rig count and hotel occupancy. Industrial electricity sales were unchanged in September after easing in August. If there is good news in the oil patch it is that natural gas prices have increased from $3 per MMBtu for most of 2018, to over $4 by mid-November. However, this will not completely offset the pain from tighter margins on oil production as West Texas Intermediate crude struggles to stay above $50 per barrel. The 5 State Index graph on this page shows recent flattening in Texas, California and Michigan, all sizeable states with key industrial sectors. This should be taken as a cautionary signal for the overall U.S. economy as we head into year end.
For a PDF version of this report, click here: Comerica Bank’s Texas Index Little Changed
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