Texas business activity grew for the 11th straight month, according to a March Dallas Federal Reserve Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey released today. 

After clocking in at 0.3 for February, this month's report puts business activity at 4.9. Analysts had expected an upswing but were pleasantly surprised to see their 3.0 estimate exceeded. 

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 activity edged up, the state's production index added on 6.3 points to clock in at a solid 17.1.

Source: Dallasfed.org. 

Diving deeper into components, the all-important new orders index increased 5.2 points to 14.7, while shipments jumped 6.2 points to 19.5. The labor market kept growing, but offered mixed messages. While overall employment increased 5.1 points to 15.0, hours worked dropped off 6.7 points to 5.3.