The region's manufacturing sector expanded at a faster pace in December, as the general business conditions index climbed to 7.0 from 6.5 in November, 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 20.1, down from 29.9 last month, new orders index gained to 15.4 from 11.8, shipments rose to 13.3 from 5.6, the unfilled orders index slid to negative 5.0 from negative 4.2, the delivery times index dipped to negative 9.0 from positive 3.2, inventories dipped to 14.8 from 15.3, prices received increased to 12.9 from 10.0, the number of employees index grew to 2.2 from 1.1, and the average employee workweek reversed to positive 6.8 from negative 8.6.

The six months from now general business conditions index slid to 44.0 from 45.8 in last month's survey, the prices paid index was at 43.7, off from 46.9 in the prior survey, and the prices received index slid to 33.6 from 38.4. The capital expenditures index dropped to 7.0 from 17.2 last month. The number of employees index fell to 16.0 from 26.9, while the average workweek index slumped to 9.6 from 17.2. The new orders index dipped to 45.0 from 47.5; shipments fell to 41.7 from 42.7; and the unfilled orders index declined to 11.3 from 14.3. The delivery times index decreased to 2.7 from 3.5, and inventories dropped to 1.7 from 4.5.

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