Empire State Manufacturing Index Plummets on Coronavirus Concerns

Written by Sandy Williams

The Empire State Manufacturing Index plummeted 34 points in March to register -21.5, its steepest point drop on record and its lowest level since 2009. Forty-two percent of New York manufacturers surveyed reported that business conditions had worsened during the period.

The new orders index tumbled 31 points to -9.3 while shipments fell 20.6 points to -1.7. Delivery times were somewhat longer in March and inventories slightly higher.

Prices paid held steady in March, while prices received dipped 6.6 points.

The number of employees index registered -1.5, fairly steady, and the average work week was reported as shorter at an index reading of -10.6.

Business sentiment dropped substantially in March. The future general business indicator plunged 22 points to 1.2. Indexes for future orders and shipments declined, but were expected to be higher than this month’s levels.

“The impact of the coronavirus was still in its early stages at the time of this survey. Nonetheless, the early indications suggest that the impact was substantial,” said T.J. Connelly, head of research at Contingent Macro, in remarks to MarketWatch.

Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macroeconomics said of the index results, “In one line: Manufacturing is back in recession.”

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