The numbers: The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index tumbled in August, losing almost all of its surprising gain in the prior month that took it to record highs.

The headline general business conditions index fell 24.7 points to 18.3 in August, the regional Fed bank said Monday. Economists had expected a reading of 30, according to a survey by Econoday.  Last month, the index had risen 25.6 points to record 43.

Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions.

Key details: The new-orders index fell 18.4 points to 14.8 in August while shipments plunged 39.4 points to 4.4.

The number of employees dropped 7.8 points to 12.8.

On inflation, the prices received index rose 6.6 points to a record-high 46.

Optimism about the six-month outlook rose 7 points 39.5. Future capital spending plans slipped 3.3 points to 23.

Big picture: Economists were expecting a retreat from last month’s record high, but not a complete reversal. The U.S. manufacturing sector continues to be dogged by supply bottlenecks and inability to meet demand. Investors look at the data mainly to get a sense of the national ISM index, which has fallen for two straight months but remains at a high level of 59.5. The August ISM data won’t come out until early next month.

Market reaction: Stocks


were set to open lower on Monday on weak China data and the collapse of the swift takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

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