The numbers: The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index, a gauge of manufacturing activity in the state, jumped 36.4 points to 24.6 in April, the regional Fed bank said Friday. Economists had expected a flat reading, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal.
Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions.
The index had sunk to negative 11.8 in March in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Key details: The new-orders index jumped 36.3 points to 25.1 in April, and the shipments index surged 41.9 points to 34.5.
Unfilled orders rose 4.2 points to 17.3 in April while delivery times fell 10.9 points to 21.8.
The prices-paid index hit a record high reading of 86.4.
There was one gloomy note. Optimism among manufacturers about the next six months declined a sharp 21 points to 15.2, the lowest level since early in the pandemic.
Big picture: Manufacturing has been a bright spot of the economy coming out of the pandemic. But there is some concern that demand may weaken. The Empire State index been at low end of range of all regional manufacturing surveys this year.
Economists use the regional surveys to get an early read on U.S. manufacturing.
The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index slipped to 57.1 in March, its lowest reading since September 2020. It has been above the 50 level that marks expanding activity for 22 straight months.