By Jill Mislinski
On Tuesday morning, we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions at 3.9 was a decrease of 7.6 from the previous month's 11.5.
The Investing.com forecast was for a reading of 10.75.
The Empire State Manufacturing Index rates the relative level of general business conditions in New York state. A level above 0.0 indicates improving conditions, below indicates worsening conditions. The reading is compiled from a survey of about 200 manufacturers in New York state.
Here is the opening paragraph from the report.
Business activity grew slightly in New York State, according to firms responding to the January 2019 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index fell eight points to 3.9, its lowest level in well over a year. New orders increased at a slower pace than in recent months, while shipments continued to climb significantly. Delivery times were slightly shorter, and inventories declined. Labor market indicators pointed to a modest increase in employment and hours worked. The prices paid index moved lower for a second consecutive month, indicating some slowing in input price increases, and the prices received index held steady. Looking ahead, firms were less optimistic about the six-month outlook than they were last month. [source]
Here is a chart of the current conditions and its 3-month moving average, which helps clarify the trend for this extremely volatile indicator:
Click this link to access a PDF set of charts of the individual components over the past 12 months.
Since this survey only goes back to July of 2001, we only have one complete business cycle with which to evaluate its usefulness as an indicator for the broader economy. Following the Great Recession, the index has slipped into contraction multiple times, as the general trend slowed. We saw a gradual decline in 2015 that began picking up in 2016.
Here is an overlay of the current and future conditions (a six-month outlook).
Meanwhile, here's another look at the latest ISM Manufacturing Business Activity Index.
Let's compare all five Regional Manufacturing indicators. Here is a three-month moving average overlay of each since 2001 (for those with data).
Here is the same chart including the average of the five. Readers will notice the range in expansion and contraction between all regions.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.