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Dallas Fed Factory Index Decreased to 10.8 in March From 17.8

Manufacturing in Texas expanded less than forecast in March as orders slowed.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said its general economic index decreased to 10.8 this month from 17.8 in February. Economists forecast the gauge would fall to 17, according to the median of 10 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Readings greater than zero signal expansion.

The outlook over the next six months increased, indicating manufacturers are still confident in the expansion. Labor-market gains may help bolster consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, and further propel the industry.

A pair of Fed factory reports on March 15 showed the industry is helping bolster economic growth. Manufacturing in the Philadelphia area grew at the fastest pace in almost a year, while factories in the New York region grew the most since June 2010.

The Dallas Fed’s production index was little changed at 11.1 in March. The new orders measure dropped to minus 0.3, the weakest in three months, from 5.8 in February. The gauge of factory employment dropped to 21.7 from 25.2.

A gauge of manufacturers’ outlooks six months from now rose to 19.1 from 15.9.

Data for the Dallas Fed’s factory gauge were collected March 13-21, and 88 manufacturers in Texas responded to the survey.

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