NY Manufacturing Activity Climbs in December

A gauge of manufacturing in New York State showed growth accelerated in December to its highest level since May as new orders improved, the New York Federal Reserve said in a report on Thursday.

The New York Fed's "Empire State" general business conditions index rose to 9.53 from 0.61 the previous month. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 3.00.

New orders rose to 5.10 from minus 2.07, while inventories gained to minus 3.49 from minus 12.20. New orders were also at their highest level since May.

The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions. The gain in December added on to improvement last month that pulled the index out of a five-month contraction.

Employment gauges continued to be mixed. The index for the number of employees perked up at 2.33 from minus 3.66, but the average employee workweek index fell to minus 2.33 from 2.44.

Manufacturers were also more optimistic about the business conditions going forward. The index of business conditions six months ahead jumped to 52.33 from 39.02.