By Xavier Fontdegloria
Manufacturing activity in the New York State lost momentum in December, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed Tuesday.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's general business conditions index fell to 4.9 in December compared with a 6.3 reading in November.
The reading is broadly in line with expectations from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal, who had expected the indicator to contract to 5.4.
December's data show that economic activity in the New York State's manufacturing sector grew for the sixth consecutive month, albeit at a slower pace than that of November. Since July, when the index recovered pre-crisis levels with the reopening of factories, the indicator has remained within expansion territory but without a clear trajectory.
"Manufacturing activity in New York State expanded only to a small degree in December," the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said.
The survey is sent to the same pool of about 200 manufacturing executives in New York state. Participants from across the state in a variety of industries respond to a questionnaire and report the change in several indicators from the previous month. A positive index reading means activity is expanding, while a negative reading indicates contraction.
In December, 26% of respondents said conditions had improved in the month, while 21% reported that conditions had worsened compared with November.
The new orders index was little changed at 3.4, indicating a slight increase in orders, and the shipments index climbed six points to 12.1, pointing to a relatively substantial increase, the N.Y. Fed said.
Delivery times were somewhat longer, while inventories edged lower, the report said.
The index for number of employees rose five points to 14.2, its highest level in over a year, suggesting significant gains in employment levels. The average workweek index was unchanged at 4.8. Around 20.5% of firms said employment levels increased in December, while 6.3% reported a decrease.
The prices paid index rose eight points to 37.1, its highest level in two years, and the prices received index held roughly steady at 10.0.
Optimism among manufacturing firms in New York State held fairly steady in December, with the index for business conditions increasing to 36.3 from 33.9 in November, suggesting that firms in the area remained optimistic about future conditions.
The indexes for future new orders and shipments were positive, the N.Y. Fed said, while the index for future employment also suggested an increase in the months ahead.
Write to Xavier Fontdegloria at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 15, 2020 08:44 ET (13:44 GMT)Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.