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NEW YORK CITY-The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general business conditions index, based on a monthly survey of manufacturers, has gone into positive territory for the first time since April 2008. Part of the Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the index of 12.1 is up 13 points from July, the New York Fed said Monday.

In a release, the New York Fed says the rebounding index is “a clear indication” that overall business conditions have improved for manufacturers in New York State. The August index is the highest since the November 2007 level of 25 and occurs just five months after the eight-year-old index reached its lowest point on record, the -38.2 score recorded in March.

Thirty percent of respondents said that conditions had improved over the month, while 18% said conditions had deteriorated, the release states. The new orders index rose eight points to 13.4, and the shipments index rose three points to 14.1, with both indexes at their highest levels in more than a year. Even so, the inventories index remained well below zero at -22.3, although it rose 14 points from the previous month.

Similarly, the survey’s employment indexes have improved from recent levels, although they remain below zero. Future indexes generally rose from last month and conveyed optimism that conditions will improve over the next two quarters, the release states.

Sixty-two percent of respondents expect conditions to be better in six months, a view reflected in the 14-point jump in the future general business conditions index. The future new orders index rose 15 points to 46.0, and the future shipments index rose four points to 40.5. The capital expenditures index rose 16 points to 18.1, its highest level in over a year, while the technology spending index increased by 14 points to 14.9.

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