Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region shrank for the fifth month in a row in September, though the rate of contraction continued to ease as new orders picked up, a survey showed on Thursday.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose to minus 1.9 from minus 7.1 in August, topping economists' expectations for minus 4 according to a Reuters poll.
The forward-looking new orders gauge gained to 1.0 from minus 5.5.
Both measures were at their highest levels since April.
Any reading below zero indicates contraction 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.