Texas factory activity increased in December for the eighth straight month of advances, according to a Dallas Federal Reserve Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey released today. 

After clocking in at 1.9 for November, this month's report puts business activity at 3.1, slightly less than analysts' expectations of a 4.0 reading. 

The monthly survey asks about 100 Texas manufacturers to rate their views on current and future business activity. Market watchers keep a close eye on this index, as Texas' manufacturing can serve as an important indicator of national economic health. A positive number indicates month-over-month growth, while a negative number means contraction. 

While business conditions improved at a faster rate, the Fed's production index showed some signs of slowing. An important manufacturing metric, the index fell from 16.9 in November to 7.1 this month.

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Source: Dallasfed.org. 

Taking a closer look at the survey's individual components, the all-important new orders indicator dipped down to -0.5 from 5.4, while unfilled orders continued to contract. And although businesses hired more workers in December, the average number of hours worked fell.

Still, after eight months of overall gains for the Index, this latest report is another solid indicator of steady business.

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