Manufacturing in New York state accelerated in February to the highest level since May as orders and shipments jumped.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general business conditions index advanced to 12.9 from January’s 4.8, according to a report Tuesday. The bank’s gauge of orders surged to its best level since September 2017, while shipments climbed to the highest since 2018.
The figures are welcome news for a factory sector that struggled last year with a slowdown in capital spending, weak export markets and trade policy uncertainty. While the full effects on trade from the coronavirus have yet to be felt, sustained improvement in manufacturing would help support economic growth that’s been driven by American consumers.
Readings above zero indicate expansion, and the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for the gauge to be little changed at 5. The Empire State survey is the first of several regional Fed manufacturing indexes to be released for the month. Others for areas including Philadelphia, Richmond and Dallas will be issued over the next few weeks.