The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index rose to 20.2 in March, improving for the fourth straight month.
This number beats the consensus estimate for 17.50. Last month the index came in at 19.53.
The March Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that manufacturing activity in New York State expanded at a moderate pace. The general business conditions index was little changed at 20.2, its fourth consecutive positive reading. The new orders and shipments indexes were both positive but slightly lower, indicating continued growth in orders and shipments, though at a somewhat slower pace than in the last month. The prices paid index rose a steep 25 points to 50.6, its highest level since summer 2011, and the prices received index was positive but two points lower than in February. Employment indexes rose and indicated continued growth in both employment levels and the average workweek. Indexes for the six-month outlook, though generally somewhat lower than they were last month, conveyed a high degree of optimism, and the capital spending index rose to its highest level in more than a year.
On a series of supplementary survey questions, respondents were asked about recent and expected changes in their firms’ borrowing needs and credit availability. Parallel questions were asked in October 2011, March 2011, and earlier surveys. While a majority of respondents in the latest survey reported no change in borrowing needs, a larger proportion than in earlier surveys indicated a rising need to borrow. Looking ahead, 30 per cent of manufacturers indicated that they expect borrowing needs to be higher a year from now, whereas just 13 per cent anticipated lower borrowing needs. Respondents were evenly split about both past and expected changes in credit availability. Firms also reported little change in borrowing costs, on balance, over the past three months.