Manufacturing growth in the central Atlantic region “expanded at a slower pace in July,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index dipped to 20 from 21.

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

“Firms were optimistic in July, expecting to see robust growth across most indicators in the coming months,” the survey noted.

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond manufacturing survey

Shipments dipped to 16 from 17, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders held at 22, while the backlog of orders index declined to 4 from 20.

The capacity utilization index dropped to 8 from 20, while the vendor lead time index slid to 17 from 18. The number of employees index decreased to 22 from 23, while the average workweek index fell to 10 from 11 last month, and the wages index slid to 22 from 27.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 44, off from 48 last month, while the volume of new orders index decreased to 39 from 46, and backlog of orders crept to 26 from 25. Capacity utilization grew to 40 from 36, the vendor lead time index slid to 19 from 22, the number of employees index dropped to 26 from 33, while the average workweek index was at 18, up from 11 the previous month, and the wages index was 43, after a 39 reading last month. The capital expenditures index dipped to 30 from 31.

The current trend in prices paid rose to 3.54 in July from 3.14 in June, while growing to 2.24 from 1.72 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months gained to 2.84 from 2.00 for prices paid, and soared to 2.74 from 1.46 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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