The region's manufacturing sector continued to improve as the general business conditions index increased to 17.6 in February from 15.2 in January, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Report on Business said yesterday.

Economists predicted a reading of 17.0 for the index.

"Indexes for general activity, new orders, shipments, and employment all remained positive this month and increased from their readings in January. Firms reported a notable pickup in new orders this month," the report said.

"Overall, firms remain generally optimistic about growth for the manufacturing sector over the next six months," according to the survey.

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