- The New York Federal Reserve’s index of manufacturing conditions fell more sharply than expected in February, but remained in positive territory according to a report released on Tuesday.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said that its general business conditions index came in at 4.48 this month, down from a 20-month high of 12.51 in December. Analysts had expected the index to decline to 9.00.

On the index, a reading above 0.0 indicates improving conditions, below indicates worsening conditions.

The new orders index fell to zero from a two-year high of 11 last month.

The prices paid index fell twelve points to 25.0 this month, indicating a slowing in the pace of input price increases. However, the prices received index moved in the opposite direction, climbing two points to 15.0, suggesting that the pace of selling price increases picked up.

The index for employee numbers ticked down to 11.3 from 12.2 last month, indicating that labor market conditions remained stable.

Indexes for the six-month outlook remained fairly optimistic. The index for expected general business conditions rose to 39.0, and the index for future new orders climbed six points to 45.3, its highest level in two years.

The Empire State index is of interest to traders primarily because it is seen as an early forecast of the national Institute for Supply Management factory survey.

Following the release of the data, the U.S. dollar was trading at six-week lows against the euro, with EUR/USD up 0.28% to trade at 1.3743.

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