Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Halloween surprise from Goldman

The Goldman Sachs Analyst Index (GSAI) hit a new post-recession low this month. The index is a composite of corporate outlook by industry from Goldman's company research. In the past, the index generally fell in line with other economic activity indices such as ISM Manufacturing - but not recently. While the ISM index is showing a slight expansion (though we don't yet have the October ISM number), GSAI is pointing to the sharpest contraction across US industries since 2009. Sales, shipments, new orders - all came in weak. This indicates that the positive economic numbers in September (see discussion) may have been an aberration.
GS: - The Goldman Sachs Analyst Index (GSAI) tumbled to 32.9 in October from 44.1 in September. Underlying components also fell across the board, suggesting depressed business activity from the bottom-up.
In addition to the headline index, most of the underlying components of the GSAI also fell sharply. The sales index gave back its gain in September, falling 12 points to 36.4 in October from 48.4, registering the fifth consecutive month below the 50 mark. Similarly, the new orders index fell 15.4 points to 26.3 from 41.7, contributing 4.6 points alone to the headline drop. The inventories index saw the lone gain, rising 1.6 points to 43.3. Consequently, the orders-inventories gap fell back into negative territory at -17.0 versus flat in September. The sharp reversal in the sales, new orders, and orders-inventories gap measures suggest that the broad improvement in September was likely transient, and that activity and demand will likely remain depressed despite tight inventories.
Source: GS

This points to significant downside risk to the ISM Manufacturing number that comes out tomorrow (Thursday). Another troubling indicator from GS is the GSAI Employment Index - a component of the overall GSAI measure.

Source: GS
GS: - The employment index fell for the second consecutive month to 39.3 from 45.3 in September. This is the lowest index level since February 2010, and—similar to weakness in the employment component in the Empire State and Philadelphia Fed surveys—continues to point to a slow recovery in the labor market. While the September employment report showed encouraging improvements particularly from the household side, the pace of improvement is unlikely to sustain; we expect only a moderate gain of 125,000 in nonfarm payrolls in the October employment report on Friday.
Based on the GSAI indicators, we could be looking at a series of negative economic surprises as October economic numbers are released next month. Economic activity and corporate earnings in Q4 may in fact end up being far less rosy than many expect.
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