A gauge of manufacturing in New York state rose in March though at a slower rate than forecast, as new orders and inventories jumped, the New York Federal Reserve said in a report on Monday.

The New York Fed's "Empire State" general business conditions index rose to 5.61 in March from 4.48 in February.

The new orders index rose to 3.13 from -0.21, while inventories jumped to 7.06 from -5.0.

Employment gauges showed mixed signals. The index for the number of employees fell to 5.88 from 11.25 and the average employee workweek index rose to 4.71 from 3.75.

The index of business conditions six months ahead fell to 33.21 from 38.99 in February.

The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions.