March 15, 2019 / 1:09 PM / in 5 months

UPDATE 1-N.Y. Fed "Empire" business index falls to 22-month low

(Updates with details, quote)

March 15 (Reuters) - The New York Federal Reserve said on Friday its barometer of business activity in New York state unexpectedly declined in March to its weakest reading in 22 months, led by falls in new orders and shipments.

The regional Fed’s “Empire State” index on current business conditions fell to 3.7 from 8.8 in February. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a reading of 10.0 for March.

The March figure, which was the lowest since May 2017, signaled “that growth has remained quite a bit slower so far this year than it was for most of 2018,” the N.Y. Fed said in a report on the latest data.

The New York Fed survey’s new orders component fell to 3.0 this month from 7.5, while its barometer on shipments slipped to 7.7 from 10.4.

On the other hand, the survey’s employment index increased to 13.8 in March from 4.1 the month before. (Reporting By Richard Leong; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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