Rural Mainstreet Index Rises Again

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index for October climbed above growth-neutral. The index is a monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and/or energy. The index rose to 51.4 in October, up from 50.1 in September. While the reading is still weak, it’s the highest reading since last June. It’s the third time in the last four months that the index came in above growth neutral. Doctor Ernie Goss of Creighton says, “Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices have boosted the Rural Mainstreet Index slightly above growth neutral for the month. Even with that said, almost three of four bank CEOs reported continuing negative impacts from the trade war.” By way of comparison, the farmland and ranchland price index for October slumped to a weak 40.3 from September’s 43.1. It’s the lowest reading since last March and the 71st-straight month that the index has been below growth neutral. The October farm equipment-sales index improved to 39.7 in October, up from 35.9 in September.