Mid-Atlantic Factory Growth Slows Sharply in December


Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region grew at a slower pace in December, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index fell to 24.5 from 40.8 the month before. That was shy of economists' expectations for 27, according to a Reuters poll.

New orders fell to 15.7 from 35.7. The employment components weakened, with the gauge of the number of employees falling to 7.2, down from 22.4 and marking the lowest level since April. The workweek index slipped almost two points to 6.2.

The six-month business conditions index fell to 51.9, down from 57.7 in November and marking the lowest level since May. The prices paid index slipped to 14 from 17.3, while the six-month capital expenditures outlook fell to 21.7 from 23.

Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region's manufacturing. The survey covers factories in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

It is seen as one of the first monthly indicators of the health of U.S. manufacturing leading up to the national report by the Institute for Supply Management.

(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)