Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region "continued to grow at a slightly slower pace in December," according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index remained 13 in December unchanged from 13 in November.

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

Shipments dipped to 15 from 16, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders decreased to 10 from 15, while the backlog of orders index widened to negative 8 from negative 1.

The capacity utilization index rose to 8 from zero, while the vendor lead time index slid to negative 4 from positive 8. The number of employees index grew to 14 from 6, while the average workweek index was at 6 after a 12 reading last month, and the wages index fell to 10 from 15.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 34, off from 37 last month, while the volume of new orders index crept to 34 from 33, and backlog of orders rose to 18 from 11. Capacity utilization climbed to 26 from 20, the vendor lead time index gained to 7 from 1, the number of employees index rose to 17 from 16, while the average workweek index was at 4, up from 2 the previous month, and the wages index was 32, up from 31 last month. The capital expenditures index was 9 after 23 last month.

The finished goods inventories index dipped to 10 from 13, while the raw materials index slid to 12 from 13 the previous month.

The current trend in prices paid dipped to 1.53 in December from 1.97 in November, while falling to 1.04 from 1.08 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months grew to 2.05 from 1.75 for prices paid, and fell to 1.07 from 1.22 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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