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Report shows worsening conditions for N.Y. manufacturers

By ANDREA DECKERT - 12/17/2012 3:07:58 PM

Conditions for New York manufacturers continued to decline at a modest pace in December, the Federal Bank of Reserve’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey shows.

Continuing a five-month streak of negative readings, the general business conditions index fell three points to -8.1. Fifteen percent of respondents reported conditions had improved over the month, while 23 percent reported conditions had worsened.

After rising above zero last month, the new orders index fell seven points to -3.7. The shipments index gave back some of its gains from last month, declining six points to 8.8. The unfilled orders index climbed five points to -6.5. The delivery time index was little changed at -2.2. The inventories index was also similar to last month's reading and, at -11.8, indicated that levels were somewhat lower.

The prices paid index inched up two points to 16.1. The prices received index fell five points to 1.1. Employment indexes, negative for a second consecutive month, pointed to weaker labor market conditions. The index for number of employees rose five points to   -9.7, while the average workweek index declined three points to -9.9.

The future general business conditions index rose six points to 18.9. The future new orders index increased more significantly, climbing 11 points to 32.3, and the future shipments index rose four points to 34.4.

In a series of supplementary questions, firms were asked about past and expected price changes overall and various categories. In general, respondents predicted prices paid for most budget categories would increase by about the same rate in calendar 2013 as in 2012. The steepest price increases—both actual and expected—were reported for employee benefits, up 6.4 percent, on average, in 2012 and expected to be up 7.2 percent in 2013.

Respondents also were asked how they expected their selling prices to change over the next year. The average expected increase in the current survey was 1 percent—down from 1.8 percent in last year's survey and 3.2 percent in the December 2010 survey.

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