New York's Manufacturing Activity For April A Bit Better, But Not Great

Although manufacturing activity in New York picked up somewhat in April, it still remains at depressed levels, but manufacturers are optimistic about future business.

Manufacturing activity in New York perked up a bit in April, but remained at depressed levels overall. Manufacturers in the Empire State remain optimistic about future business, however.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said in its monthly manufacturing report that its general business conditions index rose to 3.8 in April, up 2 points from March. The percentage of respondents reporting that conditions had improved slipped from 32 percent to 29 percent, while the percentage reporting that conditions had deteriorated fell from 30 percent to 25 percent.

The new orders index remained at 3.9, but the shipments index fell from 18.5 to 8.7, and the unfilled orders index dipped from -8.1 to -8.3.

Meanwhile, the New York Fed said the prices paid index surged by 10 points in April, to 40.5, its highest level in eight months. The bank said 44 percent of respondents reported higher prices, while 4 percent reported lower prices.

However, the prices received index continued to slip, dropping from 10.5 in March to 7.1 in April, as the proportion of firms indicating price declines increased from 7 percent to 12 percent.

Employment indexes fell, the New York Fed said, but remained generally positive; the index for number of employees slipped 6 points, to 5.4, while the average workweek index fell 12 points, to 1.2.

Looking out six months, manufacturers remain generally positive in their outlook for business, but that optimism may be waning. The future general business conditions index inched down from 35.2 in March to 33.9 in April. Most of the specific future activity indexes declined moderately: the new orders index decreased from 39.2 to 35.2, the shipments index slipped from 45.4 to 38.0, and the unfilled orders index edged down 2 points to 0.5.