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Conditions for New York manufacturers improved modestly for a second consecutive month in March, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey shows.
The general business conditions index held steady at 9.2, with 29 percent of respondents reported conditions had improved over the month, while 20 percent reported conditions had worsened. The new orders index was also positive for a second consecutive month, though the index fell five points to 8.2.
The shipments index declined five points to 7.8. The unfilled orders index was little changed at -2.2. The delivery time index dropped four points to -2.2, and the inventories index fell five points to -5.4.
The prices paid index was little changed at 25.8, while the prices received index fell six points to 2.2.
After climbing above zero last month, the index for number of employees fell five points to 3.2. The average workweek index rose to zero, indicating the length of the average workweek was unchanged.
The future general business conditions index rose three points to 36.4, its highest level in nearly a year. The future prices paid index rose six points to 50.5, and the future prices received index rose 11 points to 23.7.
In a series of supplementary questions, firms were asked about cash holdings, debt levels and methods of financing capital spending. Queried about expected changes in their outstanding debt in the year ahead, manufacturers indicated an increasingly widespread inclination to take on more debt.
When asked about anticipated changes in cash holdings in the year ahead, more respondents anticipated decreases than increases—for the first time since 2008.
Manufacturers, on average, also reported that they were holding less cash than usual.
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