Manufacturing in New York state expanded at a moderate pace in March, according to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey published Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The general business conditions index was up slightly from 19.53 in February to 20.21, the fourth consecutive positive reading.
New orders and shipments also were both positive, the bank reported, but slightly lower than in February.
The prices paid index rose 25 points to 50.6, the highest level since summer 2011. A bank official said the survey did not identify the causes of the price increase, but said rising energy prices were likely a major component.
New York manufacturers indicated continued growth in both hiring and in the length of the workweek.
Asked about their firms' borrowing needs and credit availability, a majority of manufacturers reported no change in borrowing needs but a larger proportion than in earlier surveys indicated a greater need to borrow.
"Looking ahead, 30% of manufacturers indicated that they expect borrowing needs to be higher a year from now, whereas just 13% anticipated lower borrowing needs," the bank reported.
Looking ahead six months, manufacturers expressed a high degree of optimism, though indexes for general business conditions, future new orders and future shipments were all down slightly from the previous month.
Two-thirds of manufacturers responding to the survey said they expect to pay higher prices in the months ahead. Capital spending and technology spending was also projected to be up in the months ahead.
NAM/IndustryWeek Q1 Survey: Manufacturers Predict Higher Sales, Investment and Employment