The Empire State Manufacturing Survey general business-conditions index edged up 0.6 points to 3.5 in December, but “remained subdued for the seventh consecutive month.”
The December reading, based on firms responding to the survey, indicates “business activity was little changed in New York,” the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in its Dec. 16 report.
A positive reading indicates expansion or growth in manufacturing activity, while a negative index number points to a decline in the sector.
The survey found 28 percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 25 percent indicated that conditions had worsened, the New York Fed said.
The new-orders index edged down 3 points to 2.6, indicating little change in orders.
The shipments index slipped 3 points to 11.9, indicating that shipments increased “modestly,” the New York Fed said. The unfilled-orders index fell 6 points to -13.8, indicating that unfilled orders continued to decline.
Delivery times shortened, and inventories held steady.
The index for number of employees was unchanged at 10.4, indicating that employment expanded for the fourth straight month.
The average-workweek index was 0.8, a sign that the average workweek was unchanged. Input price increases continued to “decelerate,” with the prices-paid index moving down 5 points to 15.2, “a multi-year low.” The prices-received index was little changed at 4.3.
Indexes assessing the six-month outlook suggested that optimism about future conditions improved for a second consecutive month.
The index for future business conditions climbed 10 points to 29.8. Unfilled orders are expected to increase in the months ahead, and delivery times are expected to lengthen.
The capital-expenditures index rose 7 points to 26.1, and the technology-spending index jumped 12 points to 27.5.
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.