The Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Feb. 17 reported that its Empire State Manufacturing Survey general business-conditions index fell 2.2 points to 7.8 in the February survey.
Economists and analysts had been expecting a reading of about 9, according to Briefing.com and MarketWatch.
Despite the decline, the New York Fed said the figure suggests “that conditions for New York manufacturers improved modestly for a second consecutive month.”
That’s because index readings above zero represent improving conditions.
The survey found 29 percent of manufacturing respondents reported that conditions had improved, while 21 percent indicated that manufacturing activities had worsened.
The new-orders index fell 5 points to 1.2, indicating that orders were “essentially flat.” The shipments index climbed 5 points to 14.1, signaling that shipments “increased at a faster pace this month.”
The unfilled-orders index remained negative at -6.7.
The delivery-time index rose from negative territory for the first time in several months. At 1.1, the index suggested that delivery times had not shortened as in
previous months, but rather were “little changed.”
The inventories index, at -2.3, indicated that inventory levels were “slightly lower.”
The prices-paid index inched up 2 points to 14.6, signaling a “moderate” increase in input prices for a fifth consecutive month.
The prices-received index fell 9 points to 3.4, indicating that the pace of selling price increases “slowed.”
Labor-market indicators pointed to an increase in employment levels, but “little change” in hours worked.
The index for number of employees dipped 4 points to 10.1, while the average workweek index came in at -1.1.
Indexes assessing the six-month outlook, though “generally positive,” conveyed “considerably less optimism” about future business activity than in recent months.
The index for future general-business conditions plunged 23 points to 25.6, its lowest level in more than two years.
The future new-orders and shipments indexes also posted “significant” declines.
The future prices-paid index fell several points to 27.0, and the future prices-received index declined 10 points to 5.6, its lowest level in more than five years.
The index for expected number of employees, though lower, remained positive at 24.7.
The capital-expenditures index “surged” 18 points to 32.6, its highest level in more than three years, and the technology-spending index rose to 19.1.
The New York Fed distributes the Empire State Manufacturing Survey on the first day of each month to the same pool of about 200 manufacturing executives in
New York. On average, about 100 executives return responses.