The July Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that manufacturing activity expanded modestly over the month.
- The general business conditions index rose five points to 7.4.
- New orders declined, as that index slipped into negative territory for the first time since November 2011, falling five points to -2.7.
- The shipments index increased five points to 10.3, indicating a rise in shipments.
- The prices paid index declined for a fourth consecutive month, dropping twelve points to 7.4, its lowest level since mid-2009.
- The prices received index inched up three points to 3.7.
- Employment levels climbed higher, with the employment index rising six points to 18.5.
- The average workweek index fell three points to zero.
- Future indexes were generally positive, but many continued to drift downward and suggested that the level of optimism about future conditions remains below the level earlier this year.
- The median respondent reported that sales were up 4.5 percent for the first half of 2012 compared with the first six months of 2011, and are expected to be up 5 percent for the full calendar year—values slightly lower than what were reported in last July’s survey.
- In the current survey, the median respondent indicated a 2 percent increase in the number of employees—both for the first half of this year and for what is expected for the full-year 2012.
- Moderately more respondents indicated that they had ramped up rather than scaled back production plans since the beginning of the year, reflecting a bit more optimism than last year’s responses suggested.