NEW YORK – The region's manufacturing sector expanded modestly in April at a slower pace than in March, as the general business conditions index slipped to 8.5 from 12.5 in March, this month’s Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Report on Business indicates.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a reading of 12.0 for the index.

The prices paid index was 22.5, compared to 18.7 last month, new orders index slumped to 2.7 from 3.3, shipments dropped to 2.8 from 3.5, the unfilled orders index reversed to positive 3.2 from negative 11.0, the delivery times index increased to negative 3.4 from negative 7.1, inventories jumped to 8.2 from 0.9, prices received gained to 9.4 from 8.4, the number of employees index soared to 17.9 from 6.8, and the average employee workweek reversed to negative 2.3 from positive 2.7.

The six months from now general business conditions index increased to 33.8 from 32.9 in last month’s survey, the prices paid index was at 35.2, off from 39.4 in the prior survey, and the prices received index fell to 20.4 from 25.6. The capital expenditures index rose to 21.7 from 14.1 last month. The number of employees index gained to 27.8 from 21.8, while the average workweek index declined to 7.5 from 11.2. The new orders index dipped to 35.4 from 36.4; shipments slid to 31.0 from 31.3; and the unfilled orders index decreased to 7.4 from 9.1. The delivery times index dropped to negative 10.1 from positive 0.1, and inventories grew to 9.7 from 5.8.

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