By Xavier Fontdegloria
Manufacturing activity in New York state expanded in January at a softer pace than that of the previous month, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed Friday.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey's general business conditions index decreased to 3.5 in January from 4.9 in December.
The reading misses expectations from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal, who had expected the indicator to increase to 6.0.
January data show that economic activity in the state's manufacturing sector grew for the seventh consecutive month, albeit at a slower pace than that of December. The indicator has remained within expansion territory since July but started a downward trend in September.
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.
For January, 27% of respondents said conditions had improved in the month, while 23% reported that conditions had worsened compared with December.
The new orders index rose three points to 6.6, indicating a small increase in orders, while the shipments index fell to 7.3.
Delivery times were somewhat longer and inventories held steady, the report said.
The index for number of employees fell three points to 11.2, with about 20% of firms saying that employment levels increased in January while 9% reported a decrease. The average workweek index was little changed at 6.3 points.
The prices paid index rose eight points to 45.5, its highest level in two years, and the prices received index increased five points to 15.2.
Optimism among manufacturing firms in New York decreased somewhat, with the index for business conditions declining to 31.9 from 36.3 in December.
The indexes for future new orders and shipments were positive and slightly higher than December's readings, 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
January 15, 2021 08:44 ET (13:44 GMT)Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.