The Empire State Manufacturing Survey general business-conditions index bounced back into positive territory by rising 14 points to 9.1 in November, its highest reading since April.
The index had turned negative in October by declining 7 points to -4.6.
The general business-conditions index is the monthly gauge of New York’s manufacturing sector.
Based on firms responding to the survey, the November reading indicates business activity “grew modestly” in New York state, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in its Nov. 15 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 33 percent of New York manufacturing respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 24 percent said that conditions had worsened, per the New York Fed.
It also found that new orders “continued to fall slightly” and shipments “picked up.”
The new-orders index held steady at -4.9, pointing to another small decline in orders, while the shipments index rose 8 points to 10.0, showing an increase in shipments, the New York Fed said.
The unfilled-orders index fell 4 points to -23.2, a sign that unfilled orders continued to decline “significantly.”
The inventories index rose 11 points to 9.1, indicating that inventories moved higher for the first time in several months. The delivery-times index was little changed at -6.1, suggesting that delivery times continued to shorten.
The index for number of employees fell 8 points to -4.5, and the average-workweek index fell 6 points to -3.8, reflecting a small decline in employment levels and hours worked. The prices-paid index edged down 3 points to 22.2, pointing to a slight moderation in input price increases, while the prices-received held steady at 11.1, a sign that selling price increases remained modest.
Looking ahead, firms became “much less sanguine” about the outlook. The index for future business conditions plunged 24 points to -0.9, its lowest level in nearly a year. Only 29 percent of respondents expect conditions to be better in six months. New orders and shipments are expected to increase only modestly, though employment is expected to grow.
The capital-spending index dropped 7 points to 3.0, and the technology index fell to zero, suggesting that capital-spending plans and technology spending plans “remained weak,” the New York Fed said.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York 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.