New York manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracts in MarchChristian Fernsby ▼ | March 17, 2020
New York manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in the month of March, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York yesterday.
Empire State New York factory
Topics: New York
Economists had expected the general business conditions index to show a much more modest decrease and remain positive at 4.0.
The steeper than expected represented the largest point decrease on record and dragged the index down to its lowest level since 2009.
The sharp decline by the headline index came as the new orders index plummeted to a negative 9.3 in March from a positive 22.1 in February and the shipments index tumbled to a negative 1.7 from a positive 18.9 percent.
The number of employees index also slumped to a negative 1.5 in March from a positive 6.6 in February, indicating employment levels were little changed over the month.
The report also said the prices paid index edged down to 24.5 in March from 25.0 in February, while the prices received index slid to 10.1 from 16.7.
Looking ahead, the New York Fed said optimism about the six-month outlook fell sharply, with firms less optimistic than they have been since 2009.
The index for future business conditions plunged to 1.2 in March from 22.9 in February, suggesting firms no longer expect general business conditions to be better over the next six months.
A note from economists at Oxford Economists said the New York Fed's report is likely to be the first of many indicators signaling economic activity has slowed sharply in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. ■