Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Slight Growth In March

This morning we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions at 3.80 was a decrease of 5.1 from the previous month's 8.80.

The Investing.com forecast was for a reading of 10.0.

The Empire State Manufacturing Index rates the relative level of general business conditions in New York state. A level above 0.0 indicates improving conditions, below indicates worsening conditions. The reading is compiled from a survey of about 200 manufacturers in New York state.

Here is the opening paragraph from the report.

Business activity grew only slightly in New York State, according to firms responding to the March 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index fell five points to 3.7. New orders increased only marginally, while shipments grew modestly. Delivery times and inventories held steady. Labor market indicators pointed to an increase in employment, but a small decline in hours worked. The prices paid index moved higher for the first time in four months, pointing to a pickup in input price increases, while the prices received index moved lower, indicating a slowing in selling price increases. Indexes assessing the six-month outlook suggested that firms remained fairly optimistic about future conditions. [source]

Here is a chart of the current conditions and its 3-month moving average, which helps clarify the trend for this extremely volatile indicator:

(Click on image to enlarge)

Empire State Manufacturing

Click this link to access a PDF set of charts of the individual components over the past 12 months.

Since this survey only goes back to July of 2001, we only have one complete business cycle with which to evaluate its usefulness as an indicator for the broader economy. Following the Great Recession, the index has slipped into contraction multiple times, as the general trend slowed. We saw a gradual decline in 2015 that began picking up in 2016.

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