Manufacturing activity growth in New York state slowed sharply in April as companies faced rising input prices, the U.S. central bank reported Monday.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's index plunged to 6.6, from 20.2 in March, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said.

The slowdown was much stronger than most analysts expected, with the average estimate of a 17.5 reading.

"Although the general business conditions index fell 14 points, it remained positive at 6.6," the regional Fed said.

Manufacturers continued to face "significant" input price increases, it said. After rising sharply last month, the "prices paid" index fell five points to 45.8, but that was well above the level in the preceding several months.

New orders numbers were little changed in April and the reading on unfilled orders dropped.

Still, the businesses maintained an optimistic outlook for the coming six months. The future general business conditions index slipped four points to 43.1.

"Roughly half of respondents expected conditions to improve in the months ahead," the New York Fed said.

See also:

New York Manufacturing Outlook Positive

Manufacturing Survey Shows Continued Expansion