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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A reading on factory activity in the New York area remained positive for a seventh month in a row and strengthened more than expected this month, suggesting manufacturing is continuing its recovery since last year.

The general business conditions index jumped 9 points to register 24.9 in February, according to the Empire State Manufacturing Survey released early Tuesday from the

New York Federal Reserve Bank

. Consensus forecasts provided by showed analysts expected the index to show a lighter expansion at 18. It's the index's best showing since last October, when the gauge reached 33.4 and remains far ahead of last February's -31.6 slump.

The report is stitched together from a series of survey responses from some 200 manufacturing executives in New York.

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An individual index reflecting new orders dropped 12 points to register 8.8, while a separate reading on shipments shed 6 points to land at 15.1. But the pace of inventories growth rose out of negative territory to register a mark of 0. Gauges measuring the number of employees and the average employee workweek also improved this month.



traded higher by 68 points, or 0.7%, to 10,168 just after the opening bell.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York