New York Manufacturing Rebounds

First improvement in more than a year

A key U.S. manufacturing survey in New York state turned positive for the first time in more than a year in August, surging more than expected in a freash sign of recovery from recession.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's general business conditions index increased 13 points, to 12.1, its highest level since November 2007, and much higher than the analyst consensus forecast of a rise of 2.2 points, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said.

"For the first time in considerably more than a year, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers have improved," the New York Fed said.

The monthly index reading was at negative 0.55 in July. The index reading of zero marks the division between growth and contraction.

Thirty percent of executives who responded said that conditions had improved over the month, while 18% said that conditions had deteriorated, said the regional bank, which implements monetary policy for the Federal Reserve.

The survey of about 200 manufacturing executives in New York state is conducted in the first two weeks of each month.

The new orders index rose 8.0 points to 13.4 in August, and the shipments index rose 3.0 points to 14.1 -- both indexes were at their highest levels in more than a year.

The unfilled orders index rose slightly, to negative 9.6.

"The inventories index rose 14 points from a very low level in July, but remained well below zero at minus 22.3," the bank said.

Executives were decidedly more upbeat about conditions in the coming months. "Future indexes rose significantly in August, conveying an expectation that conditions would continue to improve in the months ahead," the bank said. The future general business conditions index advanced 14 points to 48.2, with 62% of respondents expecting conditions to improve in six months.

The capital expenditures index advanced 16 points to 18.1, its highest level in over a year, and the technology spending index rose 14 points to 14.9.

Current employment conditions rose for the sixth consecutive month but remained negative. The index for the number of employees rose 13 points to negative 7.5, its highest level since October of last year. In a sign that companies expect to be hiring, the future employment indexes were positive and higher than in July.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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