DALLAS, April 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Comerica Bank's Texas Economic Activity Index was down by 0.1 points in February to 132.8. February's index reading is 37 points, or 39 percent, above the index cyclical low of 95.5. The index averaged 128.5 points for all of 2017, three and four-fifths points above the average for 2016. January's index reading was revised to 132.8.
The Comerica Bank Texas Economic Activity Index was essentially unchanged in February. This follows the five monthly gains seen from September through January. Six of the nine sub-indexes were positive in February, including nonfarm payrolls, unemployment insurance claims (inverted), house prices, drilling rig count, total state trade and state sales tax revenues. Three sub-indexes were negative for the month including housing starts, industrial electricity demand and hotel occupancy. While our index is showing a pause in overall activity in February, there are positive trends that are occurring in the sub-components. Texas nonfarm payrolls are growing at a robust pace, averaging 37,000 net jobs per month in the first three months of 2018. Part of the job growth story is the resurgence of the Texas energy sector. The price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil has been on an increasing trend since mid-2017. As a result of higher crude oil prices, the Texas drilling rig count improved from about 460 rigs last June, to 509 rigs in mid-April. Much of the increase in activity has been in the Permian Basin in West Texas. The Energy Information Agency expects production in the Permian to reach a record high of 3.18 million barrels a day in May. Also, non-energy businesses from outside of Texas continue to flock to the state. California-based PIMCO was the latest to announce that it will setup shop in Austin in 2018.
The Texas Economic Activity Index consists of nine variables, as follows: nonfarm payroll employment, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, housing starts, house price index, industrial electricity sales, Texas rotary rig count, total trade, hotel occupancy and sales tax revenue. All data are seasonally adjusted. Nominal values have been converted to constant dollar values. Total index levels are expressed in terms of three-month moving averages.
Comerica Bank is a subsidiary of Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA), the largest U.S. commercial bank headquartered in Texas, strategically aligned by three business segments: The Business Bank, The Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Comerica focuses on relationships, and helping people and businesses be successful. In addition to a local banking center network throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Kerrville, Texas, Comerica Bank locations can be found in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan, with select businesses operating in several other states, as well as in Canada and Mexico.