Empire State Survey Shows Big Jump in Manufacturing Optimism

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Manufacturing businesses in New York are feeling more optimistic and raising their capital spending and technology spending plans, according to a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The N.Y. Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey showed subdued but rising activity in December. The general business index gauge rose to 3.5 in December, higher than the 2.9 read in November but below expectations for a 4.0 reading.

Any score on the index above 0 indicates economic expansion. The rising score suggests that manufacturing activity is accelerating going into the new year, a welcome change in direction after a slowdown over the summer and early fall.

The best news from the survey comes from the six-month outlook. The outlook for general conditions jumped much higher as the share of business with a pessimistic forecast fell sharply.

Capital spending plans moved much higher, boding well for business investment, which has been a soft spot for the economy. Technology spending plans also jumped. Expectations for new orders rose as well.

Trade tariffs are not creating any pricing pressure despite the September hike on goods imported from China. The gauges for prices paid and prices received by manufacturers declined. The outlook for prices paid sank, while the outlook for prices received rose, a very positive forecast from the point of view of manufacturers.

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