Manufacturing growth in the central Atlantic region was “moderate” in December, according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index declined to 20 from 30.

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

Shipments slid to 24 from 33, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders slumped to 16 from 35, while the backlog of orders index dropped to negative 4 from positive 21.

The capacity utilization index fell to 16 from 19, while the vendor lead time index declined to 6 from 18. The number of employees index increased to 20 from 18, while the average workweek index fell to 8 from 17 last month, and the wages index crept to 22 from 21.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 44, up from 40 last month, while the volume of new orders index increased to 44 from 38, and backlog of orders rose to 22 from 15. Capacity utilization gained to 35 from 31, the vendor lead time index declined to 7 from 10, the number of employees index grew to 26 from 24, while the average workweek index was at 9, up from 5 the previous month, and the wages index was 44, after a 39 reading last month. The capital expenditures index rose to 35 from 32.

The current trend in prices paid decreased to 1.79 in December from 2.04 in November, while slowing to 1.27 from 1.63 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months rose to 2.10 from 1.78 for prices paid, and rose to 2.02 from 1.60 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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