Empire state index rises in February as New York business activity expands

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released a survey on Friday that showed New York manufacturing activity returned to expansion in February for the first time since summer last year.

The Empire state index increased to 10 from minus 7.8 in the previous month, recording the highest reading since May 2012. A survey by Dow Jones Newswires shows that economists had expected an improved figure of only minus 3.0.

Greater than zero readings indicate expansion in New York, New Jersey’s northern areas and southern Connecticut. U.S. factory production fell in January after significant gains in the previous two months, according to a separate report.

The rise in the index was boosted by the increase in consumer and business spending in the final months of 2012 and improving demand in China and Europe. Another report released on Friday shows that consumer sentiment climbed in February for the second consecutive month, easing concerns about slowing household spending after an increase in the payroll tax.

Nearly all Empire subindexes sharply rose after posting negative figures at the end of 2012. The new orders index jumped to 13.31 in February compared to minus 7.18 last month, while the shipments index bounced back to 13.08 from minus 3.08.

Businesses in New York, meanwhile, are feeling a profit squeeze in February as prices paid index rose to 26.26 from 22.58 last month, while the prices received index declined to 8.08 from 10.75.

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