Empire State Manufacturing Activity Heats Up in November

New York business conditions recovered slightly this month, continuing a choppy pattern in how manufacturers view the economy, according to data released Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The Empire State's business conditions index rose to 10.16 in November after falling steeply to 6.17 in October. The index had been at 27.54 in September, which was the highest reading since late 2009.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the latest index to recover to 10.5. A reading above zero indicates expansion.

"The general business conditions index signaled that business activity continued to expand for New York manufacturers in November, and at a somewhat faster pace than last month. Nonetheless, the October and November readings for this index point to a downshift in the pace of growth compared with the May-September period, when the index averaged around 20," the report said.

The New York Fed subindexes broadly recovered this month.

The new orders index bounced back to 9.14 this month after having plunged to -1.73 in October. The shipments index rose to 11.83 after having dropped to 1.12 in October from a multi-year high of 27.08 in September.

The employment index softened, however, slipping to 8.51 from 10.23. The workweek index contracted to -7.74, extending October's decline to -1.14 from 3.26.

Both price measures slowed again this month. The prices-received index fell to zero from 6.82, marking the lowest reading in a year, the report said. The prices-paid index slipped to 10.64 from 11.36.

"Indexes assessing the six-month outlook generally rose this month, and conveyed considerable optimism about future business activity," the report said.

The general business-conditions expectations index for the next six months rose to 47.61 in November from 41.66 in October. New-orders expectations rose to 46.99 from 42.34. The employee-expectations index bounced back to 24.47 from 12.50.

The New York Fed survey is the first monthly factory report released by regional Fed banks. The Philadelphia Fed will release its survey Thursday.

Economists use the Fed surveys as guideposts to forecast the health of the national industrial sector as captured in the monthly manufacturing report done by the Institute for Supply Management.

Write to Cynthia Lin at cynthia.lin@wsj.com