Hurricane Harvey made its effects felt in the national activity index which fell to minus 0.31 in August for the weakest showing since August last year. The 3-month average fell to minus 0.04 for only the second negative score this year. Negative readings in this broad composite are consistent with subpar economic growth.
Negative pull came especially from the production component as industrial production, hit by Harvey dislocations, showed declines for all 3 components -- manufacturing, mining and utilities. Also weak was personal consumption & housing with retail sales pulled down by weak auto sales, another likely Harvey effect centered in Houston, and also housing starts where the South showed sharp Harvey-related effects.
Positive contributions came from employment, where August payroll growth was solid at 156,000, and also sales, orders & inventories where a boost came from a sharp inventory build in the ISM manufacturing report. But today's report is about weakness not strength and the prospect of Hurricane Irma's impact on Florida points to similar trouble for the September report.