Financial Report: Empire State manufacturing index known as ‘subdued’ as outlook part slumps to three-year low

Bloomberg News/Landov

An employee pulls a crucible of molten glass from a furnace at a Corning Inc. plant in Corning, New York.

The numbers: Factory production in New York state picked up somewhat in April but remained “fairly subdued,” the New York Fed said Monday.

The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index rebounded to a reading of 10.1 from a nearly two-year low of 3.7 in March. Economists had expected a reading of 10, according to a survey by Econoday.

Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions.

What happened: The new-orders index rose 4.5 points to 7.5 in April, while shipments inched up 0.9 points to 8.6. Inventory levels picked up while inflation pressures cooled. Optimism about the longer term waned in April.

The index for future business conditions dropped 17 points to 12.4 in April, its lowest level in more than three years.

Big picture: Manufacturing has struggled this year, in part because of a slowdown in manufacturing in China. The Empire State index has averaged 6.6 this year, down from 19.8 in 2018.

What are they saying: The future activity index “has been only weaker five times since January 2005 and four of those were in a recession,” said Robert Brusca, chief economist at FAO Economics.

Market reaction: U.S. stocks were lower on Monday with the Dow Jones Industrial

DJIA, -0.27%

 dropping by more than 50 points.

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