Manufacturing growth in the central Atlantic region “slowed in April,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index dropped to negative 3 from positive 15.

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

Shipments slumped to negative 8 from positive 15, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders fell to negative 9 from positive 17, while the backlog of orders index dropped negative 4 from positive 10.

The capacity utilization index declined to negative 4 from positive 13, while the vendor lead time index grew to 18 from 16. The number of employees index increased to 12 from 11, while the average workweek index slid to 8 from 12 last month, and the wages index rose to 27 from 22.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 39, down from 55 last month, while the volume of new orders index decreased to 36 from 46, and backlog of orders plunged to 14 from 34. Capacity utilization dropped to 25 from 40, the vendor lead time index slid to 12 from 22, the number of employees index rose to 34 from 31, while the average workweek index was at 10, off from 18 the previous month, and the wages index was 47, after a 42 reading last month. The capital expenditures index fell to 30 from 39.

The current trend in prices paid rose to 2.43 in April from 2.39 in March, while slowing to 1.46 from 1.54 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months slid to 2.52 from 2.59 for prices paid, and gained to 1.91 from 1.84 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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