Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region contracted in July, according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, as the manufacturing index tumbled to negative 17 in July from negative 1 in June.

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

Shipments slipped to negative 23 from zero, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders fell to negative 25 from negative 7, while the backlog of orders index dropped to negative 27 from negative 14.

The capacity utilization index declined to negative 16 from negative 4, while the vendor lead time index slipped to negative 5 from negative 2. The number of employees index decreased to 1 from 8, while the average workweek index was at negative 7 after a zero reading last month, and the wages index climbed to 9 from 7.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 16, off from 29 last month, while the volume of new orders index slid to 16 from 29, and backlog of orders dropped to zero from 15. Capacity utilization dipped to 6 from 7, the vendor lead time index fell to 3 from 8, the number of employees index decreased to 6 from 13, while the average workweek index was at 2, down from 7 the previous month, and the wages index was 20, off from 23 last month. The capital expenditures index was 20, after 18 last month.

The finished goods inventories index rose to 21 from 9, while the raw materials index grew to 23 from 21 the previous month.

The current trend in prices paid slid to 1.33 in July from 1.39 in June, while slipping to 0.51 from 0.66 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months dropped to 2.42 from 2.53 for prices paid, and fell to 1.82 from 2.23 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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