Manufacturing activity expanded modestly in July, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey shows.
The general business conditions index rose more than five points in July, from 2.3 to 7.4. Roughly one-third of respondents reported better conditions, while one-quarter of them reported seeing conditions worsen.
The new orders index fell below zero for the first time since November 2011, declining five points to -2.7. However, the shipments index rose five points to 10.3. The unfilled orders index fell eight points to -13.6. The delivery time index was slightly lower at -1.2, while the inventories index rose out of negative territory to a level of zero.
The prices paid index fell for a fourth consecutive month, declining 12 points to 7.4, its lowest level since mid-2009. This index has fallen a cumulative 43 points since March, pointing to a significant reduction in the pace of input price increases in recent months.
The prices received index inched up three points to 3.7, and suggested a small increase in selling prices. The number of employees’ index climbed six points to 18.5, while the average workweek index fell to zero.
The future general business conditions index fell three points to 20.2, with 37 percent of respondents expecting improved conditions in the months ahead and 17 percent anticipating a worsening of conditions.
In a series of supplementary questions, manufacturers were asked about their sales performance and expectations for 2012 compared with 2011. The median respondent reported sales were up 4.5 percent for the first half compared with the first six months of 2011, and sales are expected to be up 5 percent for the full calendar year.
The median respondent indicated a 2 percent increase in the number of employees—both for the first half of this year and for what is expected for the full-year 2012.
On another question, moderately more respondents indicated they had ramped up rather than scaled back production plans since the beginning of the year.
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