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Local manufacturing index rebounds in September

Buffalo Niagara manufacturers started growing again during September, reversing a seven month slump at local factories, a new report said.

But one month of improvement does not make a trend, and Jay K. Walker, a Niagara University economist who tracks local manufacturing activity, said he is reluctant to say the region's factories have put their 2016 weakness behind them.

"I’m still a bit hesitant to be too positive," said Walker, who compiles the monthly report on business activity at local factories for the Institute of Supply Management – Buffalo.

While the report found that business at local factories improved during September for the the first time since January and grew at its fastest pace since November 2015, Walker noted that last month's gain ran contrary to the decline in a a statewide manufacturing index, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

"The results still aren't incredibly strong, nor have I heard other clear signals marking increased strength more broadly in the macroeconomy," Walker said.

Even so, the September survey was much stronger than the August results, which had pegged the region's manufacturing activity at its lowest level since August 2015.

The latest survey of local purchasing managers showed that business rebounded during September, with the group’s business activity index jumping to 54.9 during September after plunging to 39.6 in August. Anytime the index drops below 50, it’s a sign that the manufacturing economy is weakening, while it's a sign of growth when it tops 50.

During September, nearly all of the index's main measures showed improvement, other than a continued rise in commodity prices. Production grew slightly, rebounding from a 13-month low in August. The flow of new orders increased modestly for just the second time this year. Employment rose for the first time in four

Inventories grew for the first time since July 2015, while commodity prices started rising again after holding steady during August.

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