Manufacturing Activity Surges in NY in February

Written by Sandy Williams

A surge in business activity in New York State surprised economists in February. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey’s general business index shot up eight points for a reading of 12.9, well above the forecast consensus of 4.0 and posting its highest level since May 2019.

Business conditions improved across the board except for a softening in employment. New orders jumped 15.5 points to register 22.1 and shipments gained 10.3 points for a reading of 18.9. 

Longer delivery times were noted along with stronger inventories. Price pressure eased in February with input price increases slowing and selling prices inching up slightly.

Looking forward to the next six months, manufacturer optimism was restrained. The index for future business conditions was slightly lower and indices for future orders and shipments declined 3.9 and 6.2 points, respectively. The future inventories index tumbled 17.9 points to register -8.3. Employee numbers are expected to grow modestly during the period and capital spending plans declined only slightly.

Economists suggest that improvements in January and February manufacturing indices may indicate a turnaround for the sector, although the impact of the coronavirus has yet to be seen.

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