Factories in New York state grew more slowly this month as shipments rose and new orders slipped.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Friday that its Empire State Manufacturing index declined to 18 in December from 19.4 last month. The index is down from a three-year high of 30.2 last month. Still, any reading over zero signals growth. The index is watched closely by economists because it provides a first look at the health of U.S. manufacturing each month.
A measure of shipments increased at a faster pace in December, while a gauge of new orders rose at a slightly slower pace. Hiring slipped but remained positive.
U.S. factories are benefiting from solid global growth and a cheaper dollar, which makes U.S. goods less expensive overseas. Those trends have lifted exports of manufactured goods.
A gauge of inventories fell to just 1.4, a sign that companies are clearing out their stockpiles. That could boost production in future months.
And there were signs of mild inflationary pressures. A measure of the prices paid by factories for raw materials rose five points to 29.7, though that is below levels that were reached earlier this month.