Manufacturing in New York state grew in June even as employment declined, while U.S. import prices recorded their largest decline in nearly a year in May, reports on Tuesday showed.
The Empire State general business conditions index edged up to 19.57 in June from 19.11 in May but was still well down from the 31.86 reading posted in April, a report from the New York Federal Reserve said. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a June reading of 20.00.
The employment gauge dropped, although it remained positive. The index for the number of employees fell to 12.35 in June from 22.37 in May, while the average employee workweek index rose to 8.64 from zero.
The manufacturing recovery remains fairly strong. It supports the view that the fiscal crisis in Europe has not impacted on the U.S. economy for now, said Paul Dales, U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.
On Monday, Moody's Investors Service downgraded its credit rating for Greece, underscoring worries about Europe's debt woes and their impact on the global recovery.
Some recent U.S. economic data also raised concerns that the rebound may be losing momentum, including a weaker-than-expected jobs report for May.
U.S. stock futures stayed higher after the data, while the euro was up against the dollar and U.S. Treasury debt prices were mostly flat.
Separately, a government report showed U.S. import prices declined in May as petroleum costs plummeted, bolstering views of tame inflation and low interest rates.
Import prices fell 0.6 percent, the biggest decline since July, after rising by a revised 1.1 percent in April, the Labor Department said.
Although the decline was less than economists' expectations for a 1.2 percent fall, it was the first drop since February.
April import prices were previously reported to have increased 0.9 percent. In the 12 months to May, import prices rose 8.6 percent.
The monthly decline in import prices reflected a 5.0 percent fall in the cost of imported petroleum and petroleum products, the largest drop since December 2008, after a 3.7 percent gain in April.
Excluding petroleum, import prices rose 0.5 percent after rising by the same margin in April.
Strength in the U.S. dollar is also helping to keep inflation pressures muted and this should allow the Federal Reserve to renew its low interest rate pledge at next week's policy meeting to nurse the economy's recovery.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani in Washington and Wanfeng Zhou and Richard Leong in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)