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Factory execs more optimistic about economy than they were in April

The New York Fed, above, polled factory executives

The New York Fed, above, polled factory executives for its most recent Empire State Manufacturing Survey from May 4-10. Credit: Getty Images/Andrew Burton

Factory executives across New York State are more optimistic this month than in April that the economy will be better in six months, according to a poll released Friday.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said its index of future general business conditions rose 22 points this month to 29 compared with April’s reading of 7 points. The index's break-even point is zero.

“While current conditions remained extremely weak, firms grew more optimistic [this month] that conditions would be better six months from now,” the bank said.

The index is part of the New York Fed’s monthly Empire State Manufacturing Survey, which consists of responses from about 125 factory executives statewide, including some on Long Island. The survey was conducted May 4-10.

Indexes for future new orders and future shipments “posted significant increases” in May compared with last month, the bank said. Indexes for future employment and the average workweek “remained modestly positive.”

Still, factory executives said they expect to spend less on technology, equipment and buildings in the future.

The survey’s index of current general business conditions rose nearly 30 points this month, an improvement over April, but still dismal. The index is -48.5 points compared with April’s record low -78.

Indexes of current "new orders and shipments continued to decline sharply [this month], though not as steeply as in April,” the New York Fed said. “After plunging last month, [indexes of current] employment levels and the average workweek fell further in May.” 

The Empire survey is among dozens of indicators used by the Federal Reserve to monitor the health of the U.S. economy. The survey began in 2001 at the New York Fed.

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