"Nearly 32 percent of firms reported declines in activity this month," compared with 21 percent reporting increases, the Fed said in its November 2012 Business Outlook Survey, released today. The report summarizes manufacturers' indications of current conditions and expectations for the next six months.
The Fed called its six-month outlook "mixed." Forty-three percent of firms expected their activity to increase, compared with 23 percent expecting decreases, but firms' expectations regarding hiring and capital spending have "shown weakness," the agency said.
A large number of businesses reported reduced activity due to Hurricane Sandy, with nearly four in 10 saying they were "shut down or severely crippled" for two days or more.
The survey covers manufacturers in the Third Federal Reserve District, which consists of eastern and Central Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and all of Delaware.