The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's monthly index on regional manufacturers fell to 24.5 in December from 40.8 in November, which was the highest reading in almost 21 years, according to data released Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected the Philly Fed gauge to pull back to 25 in December. Any reading above zero indicates that a net share of respondents saw an increase in the level of general business activity. Gauges of new orders and current shipments "weakened," and there was "deterioration" in the labor market, according to the report.
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