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AREA BUSINESS SHOWS IMPROVEMENT, PURCHASERS SAY

Western New York business activity showed surprising strength in September, as production rose and new orders jumped, a local purchasing managers group said.

"It looks like the summer is over and everyone is back to work," said William Ellis, business survey chairman for the National Association of Purchasing Management-Buffalo Inc.

In addition to higher production and new-order figures, the area economy also exhibited an improving employment picture and shrinking business inventories.

On the negative side, there were some reports of price increases.

The good report from local purchasing managers was in direct contrast for the second consecutive month to results from the National Association of Purchasing Managers' national survey.

The national index measuring the industrial economy slipped to 54.2 from 56.8 in August and 58.6 in July.

Locally, the group's production index, which had jumped in August to 60.4 from 52.6, continued to improve in September, to 63.2.

An index above 50 is a sign of expanding manufacturing, while a figure below 50 indicates weakening manufacturing.

The big winners in the Buffalo-area economy were the volume of new orders and employment. The new-order index jumped last month to 63.2 compared to 54.2 in August. The volume of new orders rose to 52.6 from 33.3 percent in August.

On the employment side, the local index rose to 60.5 from 47.9 in August. The purchasing managers found that 31.6 percent of their members were in a hiring mode in September vs. 20.8 percent in August, while 57.9 percent held employment steady, up from 54.2 percent in August.

Commodity prices rose slightly after dropping in August and inventories shrank, the survey found.

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