ECONOMY

Manufacturing in New York state expands in March

Manufacturing in New York state expanded for a fifth straight month in March. But the pace was slightly slower than in February, when activity had climbed to the highest point in more than two years.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported Wednesday that its Empire State manufacturing index in March stood at 16.4, down slightly from the two-year high of 18.7 reached in February.

The report said that the index for new orders climbed to its highest level since 2009, pointing to a substantial increase in orders. The index for unfilled orders jumped to the highest point in a decade.

The regional manufacturing survey for New York added to recent evidence that U.S. manufacturing is recovering after nearly two years of mostly flat output. Businesses are spending more on machinery and other big-ticket items, and many foreign economies are posting better growth.

In the report, manufacturing firms in New York said activity continued to expand at a steady pace, with firms remaining highly optimistic about future prospects.