Manufacturing activity in the New York region continued at a solid pace in March, the New York Federal Reserve Bank said Monday. The bank's Empire State Manufacturing index slipped to 22.9 in March from 24.9 in February. The index had plunged in December but has since recovered. The details of the report were strong. The new orders index shot up 17 points to 25.4. Shipments also moved higher. Inventories climbed above zero for the first time since August 2008.
The index for the number of employees rose to its highest level in more than two years. The Empire State index is of interest to investors and economists primarily because it is seen as an early indicator of what the Institute for Supply Management's March national factory survey due out in two weeks may show. In February, the ISM manufacturing index inched lower to 56.5 but continued to point to solid growth in the factory sector.