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PRODUCTION, NEW ORDERS ROSE IN WNY IN NOVEMBER, PURCHASING AGENTS SAY

The Western New York economy rallied modestly in November as the region rebounded from its sharp, oil-induced slide in October, the Purchasing Management Association of Buffalo Inc. reported.

Production and new orders -- the two factors the association uses to gauge general business conditions -- improved slightly last month. That improvement encouraged local purchasing managers.

"Our conditions are not much to brag about, but . . . we are still able to see some new light on the horizon," said Robert E. Schenk, chairman of the group's Business Survey Committee. "It may be a flicker of a candle, but it is light."

In addition to modest increases in production and new orders, the group also noted a slight improvement in local employment compared with October's dismal level, when none of the companies surveyed added any new jobs.

Even so, the survey found that the percentage of managers reporting declines in production and new orders still outnumbered those noting increases -- a sign that the local economy still is slowing.

The survey found that 20 percent of the managers responding reported increases in production last month, which was an improvement from 12 percent in October. Yet 28 percent of the managers said their companies had cut production in November, which was slightly worse than 27 percent two months earlier.

At the same time, 19 percent of the managers reported increases in new orders, up from 12 percent in October. But a much larger percentage of the managers -- 39 percent -- noted a drop in new orders, although that still was slightly better than October's 42 percent level.

The employment outlook stabilized, although the prospects for job growth remained bleak. Only 4 percent of the managers surveyed said their firms added workers last month, up from none in October. But 11 percent of the managers reported a decline in employment, down from 23 percent during October.

Inventory levels also trended lower, with 36 percent of the managers noting smaller stockpiles in November, up from 31 percent two months ago. Only 8 percent of the managers reported higher inventories, down from 23 percent in October.

The pace of vendor deliveries was stable.

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