Manufacturing in Philadelphia region picks up modestly in April, remains at low level

Factories in the Philadelphia region got a bit busier in April compared to March. But the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia says production and shipments are still at low levels.

The Philadelphia Fed's index of regional factory activity ticked up to 7.5 this month from 5 in March. It was the first increase since November. Although a figure above 0 signals growth, the single-digit reading is unimpressive. The index hit 40.2 in November, then dropped four straight months before April.

Shipments and prices dropped this month, while employment and work hours increased.

U.S. factories have been hurt by a strong dollar, which makes their products more expensive overseas. The government reported on Wednesday that industrial production fell 0.6 percent in March in the biggest drop since the Great Recession.