Sparks fly as a worker welds semi trailer components on a factory floor in Lafayette, Indiana, U.S. (Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

New York Fed Factory Gauge Falls to Lowest in Almost Two Years

(Bloomberg) -- The first Federal Reserve regional manufacturing gauge for March came in at the lowest level in almost two years, adding to signs of economic weakness in the first quarter.

The Empire State index, based on a survey of factories in New York state, fell to 3.7 this month from 8.8. That indicates only a slight expansion of activity and was the lowest reading since May 2017. It was below all but one estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

New York Fed Factory Gauge Falls to Lowest in Almost Two Years

If other regional Fed gauges show similar declines in coming weeks, the figures could raise concern that economic growth is moderating by more than expected. While the Empire State survey’s measures of new orders and shipments declined, one bright spot was the employment gauge, which rose to a three-month high.

National data due later Friday are projected to show industrial production rebounded in February after a decline in the prior month.

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