The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that manufacturing activity improved in New York State in December. The general business conditions index rose nine points to 9.5, its highest level since May. The new orders index climbed above zero, to 5.1, and the shipments index advanced eleven points to 20.9. Input price increases steepened, with the prices paid index rising six points to 24.4. Selling prices increased only modestly, with the prices received index inching down to 3.5. Employment indexes were mixed, showing a slight increase in employment levels but a slight decrease in the length of the average workweek. Future indexes rose sharply for a second consecutive month, with the future general business conditions index climbing thirteen points to 52.3, suggesting a return to the high levels of optimism seen earlier in 2011.While the numbers are still low, they are improving.
Then there was the Philly Fed index:
Responses to the Business Outlook Survey this month suggest that regional manufacturing continued to improve in December. All of the broad indicators remained positive and suggest a modest expansion of activity. Increases in input prices were more widespread this month, and there was an uptick in the number of firms reporting increased prices for their own goods. The broadest indicator of future activity reflected a trend of increased optimism about growth over the next six months.Again, the numbers are low, but they did improve.
The diffusion index of current activity, the survey’s broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, remained positive for the third consecutive month and increased from 3.6 in November to 10.3 (see Chart). The percentage of firms reporting increases in activity (25 percent) exceeded the percentage reporting decreases (15 percent). The index for current new orders showed a similar improvement, increasing 8 points. The shipments index, at 6.7, was mostly flat. Twice as many firms reported declines in inventories (30 percent) as reported increases (15 percent) and the current inventory index fell 22 points to -14.9.
Labor market conditions continue to show overall improvement, but indexes edged down this month. Twenty percent of the firms reported an increase in employment; 10 percent reported a decrease. The current employment index remained positive at 10.7, only 1 point lower than in November. The average workweek index also remained positive but fell nearly 9 points.