Economic Report: Factory activity in New York slows again in November

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Mechanical engineer Steve Santoro of D’Addario & Company works on manufacturing face shields in Farmingdale, New York.

The numbers: The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index fell 4.2 points to 6.3 in November, the regional Fed bank said Monday. Economists had expected a reading of 13.5, according to a survey by Econoday.

Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions.

What happened: The new-orders index fell 8.6 points to 3.7 in November while shipments fell 11.5 points to 6.3. Inventories remained in negative territory. Optimism about the six-month outlook inched higher.

Big picture: The Empire State survey is the first manufacturing survey among several regional snapshots for November. The sector has been recovering steadily on stronger domestic and international demand and economists expected a rebound. But the rise in COVID-19 cases may have led to some pullback in activity.  The national ISM factory index rose to 59.3 in October from 55.4 in the prior month, the second biggest monthly gain since May 2009. The November data will be released early next month.

Market reaction: Stock futures jumped on Monday after Moderna Inc. MRNA, +1.79% said its vaccine candidate proved highly effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. On Friday, the S&P 500 index SPX, +1.36% had its first record close since Sept. 2.