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Oct. Empire State index little changed at -8.5

Oct. Empire State index little changed at -8.5 (by Greg Robb)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The Empire State manufacturing index increased only slightly in October and remained in negative territory for the fifth straight month, the New York Federal Reserve Bank said Monday. The Empire state index inched higher to a negative 8.5 in October from negative 8.8 in September. Readings below zero indicate deterioration, with higher numbers of firms reporting that conditions had worsened. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected the index to improve to negative 5.0 in October. Several key components were stronger than the headline. The new orders index rose to 0.2 in October from negative 8.0, while the shipments index rose to 5.3 from negative 12.9. The employee index rose to 3.4 in October from negative 5.4 in the prior month while the average workweek was negative for the fifth month in a row. The prices paid index fell to its lowest level since last November. A reading of expected conditions six-months ahead weakened in October to its lowest level since February 2009.