Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region "pulled back in April after growing at a slower pace in March," according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index dropped to negative 6 from positive 3 in March.

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

Shipments reversed to negative 9 from positive 8, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders slid to negative 8 from negative 4, while the backlog of orders index widened to negative 21 from negative 14.

The capacity utilization index dropped to negative 18 from negative 3, while the vendor lead time index held at negative 2. The number of employees index fell to 3 from 9, while the average workweek index was at negative 3 after a positive 10 reading last month, and the wages index grew to 12 from 4.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 25, off from 31 last month, while the volume of new orders index slid to 26 from 31, and backlog of orders dipped to 10 from 12. Capacity utilization slipped to 15 from 23, the vendor lead time index decreased to zero from 1, the number of employees index fell to zero from 16, while the average workweek index was at negative 3, down from positive 11 the previous month, and the wages index was 30, up from 25 last month. The capital expenditures index was 8 after 17 last month.

The finished goods inventories index dipped to 9 from 10, while the raw materials index fell to 18 from 22 the previous month.

The current trend in prices paid slid to 1.27 in April from 1.28 in March, while dipping to 0.15 from 0.54 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months grew to 1.85 from 1.77 for prices paid, and rose to 1.26 from 1.14 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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