NEW YORK - Factory activity in New York State fell to a record low in February with new orders and employment falling sharply as the U.S. recession deepened, according to a survey on Tuesday from the regional central bank.
The New York Federal Reserve's Empire State factory index fell to minus 34.65 -- the lowest in the history of the index, which dates back to July 2001. It was down from January's already contractionary reading of minus 22.20.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers deteriorated significantly in February, the report said.
U.S. stock index futures fell to session lows after the surprisingly weak report. Government bonds, which generally benefit from weak economic data, extended their gains.
Economists had expected a reading of minus 24, according to the median of their 46 forecasts, which ranged from minus 36.5 to negative 17.50.
Reflecting a bleak outlook, the survey's gauge of new orders fell to an all-time low of minus 30.51 from January's negative 22.81.
The survey showed prices continued to fall, while employment in the state's factory sector was depressed.
The employment gauge fell to 39.08 in February -- the lowest since November 2001 -- from January's 26.14.
The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions.
(Reporting by Burton Frierson; Editing by Tom Hals)