NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of manufacturing in New York State posted its biggest monthly drop in February to the weakest since April 2003, the New York Federal Reserve said on Friday.
The New York Fed's "Empire State" general business conditions index slipped to minus 11.72 from plus 9.03 in January. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a February reading of plus 6.00.
A number of the survey's components slipped into negative territory, suggesting severe deterioration in the state's factory activities.
The survey's new order index slipped to minus 11.88 from a barely positive 0.04 in January, to its lowest since October 2001 when it was at minus 18.64, while the shipment reading sagged to minus 4.86 from plus 15.84.
The gauge of the number of employees fell to minus 2.11 from January's plus 2.44, and the measure of average workweek decreased to 0.00 from plus 4.88.
Together with signs of rapidly slowing growth, the price aspect of this regional factory survey was also gloomy.
The prices paid component rose for a second month to 47.37, the highest in two years, from January's 40.24, while the prices received measure dipped to 17.89 from 18.29 last month.
The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by James Dalgleish)