The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, taken the first half of each month, indicated manufacturing activity "continued to weaken" after slipping into the red in August for the first time since October 2011, the New York Fed said.
The general business conditions index gave up five points to reach minus 10.4. The new orders index lost nine points for its third consecutive negative posting at minus 14.
By the numbers, both new orders and general business activity are at their lowest points in almost two years, the report said.
With zero as the break-even point between contraction and growth, the shipments index dropped from 4.1 to 2.8, remaining positive, if just barely so.
The index indicating the number of employees dropped sharply from 16.5 to 4.3. The index covering hours worked held "near zero" the Fed said.
Despite the declines in various component indexes, the six-month outlook index indicated an improved attitude about the future.
The future general business activity index arrested seven consecutive months of decline and climbed 12 points to 27.2. The expected new orders index "rebounded nearly 15 points," climbing to 17, the Fed said.
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