A gauge of manufacturing in New York State contracted for the fifth month in a row in October as new orders were flat and the outlook for the coming months weakened, the New York Federal Reserve said in a report on Monday.
The New York Fed's "Empire State" general business conditions index was little changed, up a hair at minus 8.48 from minus 8.82 the month before. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of minus 4.0.
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The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions. Manufacturing has helped support the economic recovery, though the pace of growth has slowed this year and some regions have contracted.
New orders rose to 0.16 from minus 8.0, while inventories were up at minus 8.99 from minus 11.96. Despite the flat reading, new orders were still at the highest level since May, hinting some stabilization may be underway.
Employment gauges were mixed. The index for the number of employees rose to 3.37 from minus 5.43, but the average employee workweek index fell to minus 4.49 from minus 2.17.
The outlook for the coming months worsened, with the index of business conditions six months ahead dropping to its lowest level since February 2009 at 6.74 from 13.04 last month.