The region's manufacturing sector expanded in December, as the general business conditions index soared to positive 8.1 from negative 10.7 in November, this month's Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Report on Business indicates.

Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted a reading of negative 2.5 for the index.

The prices paid index was 27.8, compared to 27.9 last month, new orders index reversed to positive 10.7 from negative 4.6, shipments gained to positive 18.3 from negative 6.7, the unfilled orders index rose to positive 2.3 from negative 4.6, the delivery times index narrowed to negative 1.2 from negative 13.8, inventories climbed to negative 11.5 from negative 12.5, prices received rose to 15.4 from 6.3, the number of employees index gained to positive 3.6 from negative 6.8, and the average employee workweek jumped to positive 4.2 from negative 6.2.

The six months from now general business conditions index rose to 30.9 from 20.0 in last month's survey, the prices paid index was at 48.7, down from 51.7 in the prior survey, and the prices received index grew to 29.0 from 13.7. The capital expenditures index soared to positive 13.4 from negative 0.2 last month. The number of employees index increased to 14.8 from 4.2, while the average workweek index climbed to 17.7 from 7.9. The new orders index gained to 36.2 from 24.5; shipments rose to 33.7 from 27.2; and the unfilled orders index increased to 4.3 from 3.8. The delivery times index surged to positive 7.5 from negative 5.0, and inventories fell to negative 5.0 from negative 0.2.

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