Factories in New York State grew more slowly this month as shipments rose and new orders slipped.
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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Friday that its Empire State Manufacturing index declined to 18 in December from 19.4 last month. The index is down from a three-year high of 30.2 last month. Still, any reading over zero signals growth. The index is watched closely by economists because it provides a first look at the health of U.S. manufacturing each month.
A measure of shipments increased at a faster pace in December, while a gauge of new orders rose at a slightly slower pace. Hiring slipped but remained positive.
U.S. factories are benefiting from solid global growth and a cheaper dollar, which makes U.S. goods less expensive overseas. Those trends have lifted exports of manufactured goods.
A gauge of inventories fell to just 1.4, a sign companies are clearing out their stockpiles. That could boost production in future months.
And there were signs of mild inflationary pressures. A measure of the prices paid by factories for raw materials rose five points to 29.7, though that is below levels that were reached earlier this month.