Manufacturing growth in the central Atlantic region was “robust” in February, according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index soared to 28, the second highest value on record, from 14.

Index readings above zero show expansion, while numbers below zero indicate contraction.

Shipments surged to 31 from 15, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders grew to 27 from 16, while the backlog of orders index jumped 18 from 5.

The capacity utilization index climbed to 32 from 13, while the vendor lead time index held at 18. The number of employees index gained to 25 from 10, while the average workweek index skyrocketed to 28 from 2 last month, and the wages index dipped to 23 from 24.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 45, unchanged from 45 last month, while the volume of new orders index increased to 40 from 36, and backlog of orders rose to 26 from 25. Capacity utilization climbed to 34 from 30, the vendor lead time index remained at 13, the number of employees index rose to 22 from 21, while the average workweek index was at 7, unchanged from 7 the previous month, and the wages index was 38, after a 33 reading last month. The capital expenditures index rose to 36 from 30.

The current trend in prices paid remained at 1.79 in February from 1.79 in January, while slowing to 1.18 from 1.27 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months rose to 2.33 from 2.33 for prices paid, and slipped to 1.58 from 1.58 for prices received.

All firms surveyed are located within the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia.

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Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel has been at The Bond Buyer since 1989, currently covering economic indicators and the Federal Reserve system.