The Empire State manufacturing index moved slightly lower in March, falling to 6.9 from 7.8 in February. That was below the MarketWatch-compiled economist forecast for a reading of 8.5. Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions. Manufacturers surveyed by the New York Fed reported roughly the same modest improvement in place since October. New orders fell into negative territory in March, suggesting a decline in orders, and shipments were also weaker. On the other hand, the employment index showed a solid gain. The six-month outlook improved only slightly to 30.7 in March after plunging to a two-year low of 26 in the prior month.
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