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Manufacturers report shows local slowing

Local manufacturers continued to struggle in April, with a survey of purchasing managers at Buffalo Niagara factories showing that business slowed for the third straight month.

But the report by the Institute of Supply Management – Buffalo also had a positive sign, with the pace of the decline slowing compared with the more pronounced slump experienced in February and March.

“It was another contractional month overall, but less so than in March,” said Jay K. Walker, the Niagara University economist who compiles the report.

Even so, it was the first time since the summer of 2012 that local manufacturers reported a three-month slump in business, but Walker said he thinks the outlook for manufacturing has improved since the end of last year.

The survey found widespread weakness among manufacturers, with production and the flow of new orders still shrinking, but less rapidly than they did in March. Inventories shrank for the ninth straight month, while prices increased at their fastest pace since January 2015 as energy prices rebounded.

The one bright spot was in hiring, with employment at local factories rising for the first time since December.