Economic Report: Empire State manufacturing index shows only slight activity in March

Bloomberg News/Landov
An employee pulls a crucible of molten glass from a Corning Inc. furnace in Corning, New York.

The numbers: The New York Fed’s Empire State business-conditions index fell to a reading of 3.7 in March from 8.8 in the prior month. This is the lowest level in almost two years. 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 fell 4.5 points to 3 in March. The shipments index slipped 2.7 points to 7.7, its lowest level in more than two years. The index for the number of employees climbed 10 points to 13.8, indicating an increase in employment, but the average workweek turned negative for the first time since 2016.

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