Factories in the Philadelphia region expand at fastest pace since December; new orders jump

Associated Press

Manufacturing in the Federal Reserve's Philadelphia region expanded this month at the fastest pace since December, suggesting that an improving economy is boosting factory output.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia says its index of factory activity rose to 15.2 from 6.7 in May. That's the highest level since December, though below a recent peak of 40.2 in November. Any reading above zero indicates that manufacturing is expanding.

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U.S. manufacturing has struggled this year, in part because the dollar has risen about 15 percent in value compared with other currencies. That's made U.S. goods more expensive overseas and cut into exports. But stronger consumer spending may be providing an offsetting boost.

A measure of new orders rose to 15.2 from 4 in May, a sign that production may keep growing.