NEW YORK – The region's manufacturing sector contracted modestly in May, as the general business conditions index slipped to negative 5.8 from positive 8.5 in April, its first negative reading in eight months, this month’s Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Report on Business indicates.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a reading of 10.0 for the index.

The prices paid index was 5.0, compared to 22.5 last month, new orders index slumped to negative 1.2 from positive 2.7, shipments gained to 3.5 from 2.8, the unfilled orders index reversed to negative 9.4 from positive 3.2, the delivery times index decreased to negative 14.0 from negative 3.4, inventories slipped to 4.5 from 8.2, prices received fell to negative 4.5 from positive 9.4, the number of employees index slumped to negative 1.3 from positive 17.9, and the average employee workweek dipped to negative 5.4 from negative 2.3.

The six months from now general business conditions index slumped to 15.0 from 33.8 in last month’s survey, the prices paid index was at 37.8, up from 35.2 in the prior survey, and the prices received index fell to 7.7 from 20.4. The capital expenditures index slid to 5.3 from 21.7 last month. The number of employees index sank to 10.6 from 27.8, while the average workweek index declined to negative 1.1 from positive 7.5. The new orders index dipped to 26.3 from 35.4; shipments slid to 20.8 from 31.0; and the unfilled orders index decreased to 5.9 from 7.4. The delivery times index improved to negative 4.3 from negative 10.1, and inventories fell to negative 10.8 from positive 9.7.

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