Empire State Manufacturing Survey: Continued Growth in December

This morning we got the latest Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The diffusion index for General Business Conditions at 18.0 was a decrease of 1.4 from the previous month's 19.4.

The Investing.com forecast was for a reading of 18.6.

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 continued to grow at a solid clip in New York State, according to firms responding to the December 2017 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index, at 18.0, remained close to last month’s level. The new orders index and the shipments index both showed sustained strong gains, with the former holding steady at 19.5 and the latter edging up to 22.4. Delivery times were slightly longer than last month, and inventory levels were stable. Labor market indicators pointed to a small increase in employment but no change in hours worked. Both input prices and selling prices rose at a somewhat faster pace than last month. Indexes assessing the six-month outlook suggested that firms remained optimistic about future business conditions. [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:

Empire State Manufacturing

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. 2015 saw a gradual decline that picked up in 2016.

Here is an overlay of the current and future conditions (a six-month outlook). The future conditions index is still optimistic after almost a year into the new administration.

Meanwhile, here's another look at the latest ISM Manufacturing Business Activity Index.