NY factories slow down in November in bad sign for U.S. economy

Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:16am EST
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By Luciana Lopez and Jason Lange

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Factory activity declined in New York state earlier this month and employment in the sector failed to grow for the first time since June, signs that U.S. manufacturing may have lost a step.

A separate report on Friday showed prices for U.S. exports unexpectedly fell in October, the latest indication of global economic weakness.

The New York Fed's "Empire State" index of business conditions at factories fell to minus 2.21 from 1.52 in October, the first negative reading since May. Economists in a Reuters poll had forecast an index of 5.00. A reading above zero indicates expansion.

The report underscores the headwinds facing the world's largest economy, where the recovery remains fragile.

The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions. If the weakness in New York also appears in other major manufacturing regions, it would mark a setback after data in October showed relatively robust hiring across the economy and strong expansion at factories.

A federal government shutdown in October had been expected to drag on growth, but data in the wake of that congressional impasse has been mixed.

Labor market conditions in New York's factories weakened, with the index for the number of employees slipping to 0.0 from 3.61 in October. The average employee workweek index also sank to minus 5.26 from 3.61.

U.S. Treasuries prices pared earlier losses following the release of the factory data, which backed the view the U.S. central bank will keep buying bonds to help support the economy.   Continued...

A shipping container is shown as it is loaded onto a container ship at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California August 31, 2010. REUTERS/Fred Prouser