U.S. Mfg. Plunges Hard

A closely followed gauge of manufacturing in the New York area fell this month to its lowest level in nearly three years.

The Empire State Manufacturing Index tumbled to a -8.6 reading from 17.8 in May, a 26.4-point drop that was the biggest slide for a data series that goes back to 2001 and well below Wall Street expectations of 11.5.

The index found that in all, 22% of respondents reported that conditions had improved since May while 30% said conditions worsened, according to the index, compiled by the New York Federal Reserve and indicating the difference between plans to expand and contract.

It was the lowest reading and first negative print since October 2016 and comes amid growing worries about where the broader U.S. economy is heading and what impact the ongoing trade war will have on conditions.

Internally, the measure showed sharply diminished business expectations across a number of categories.

Net new orders collapsed 22 points to -12 while shipments declined seven points to 9.7.

Employment also looked bleak, falling to -3.5, its first negative print in more than two years.