Factory activity in New York shrank for the fifth straight month in December, forcing significant job cuts.
The New York Federal Reserve's Empire State manufacturing index did improve but stayed in negative territory. It moved up to minus 4.6, from minus 10.7. Any figure below zero indicates contraction.
There were some signs that the negative readings could be slowly turning around. A gauge of new orders increased to minus 5 from minus 11.8. And a measure of shipments jumped 10 points into positive territory, at 5.5.