NEW YORK – “Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region expanded in May for the sixth consecutive month but at a more moderate pace than a month ago,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

The manufacturing index tumbled to 4 in May from 14 in April.

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

Shipments slipped to zero from 18, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders fell to 1 from 13, while the backlog of orders index dropped to negative 18 from positive 2.

The capacity utilization index declined to 2 from 15, while the vendor lead time index slipped to 4 from 8. The number of employees index increased to 16 from 10, while the average workweek index was at 11 after a 3 reading last month, and the wages index slumped to 6 from 14.

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 30, up from 28 last month, while the volume of new orders index rose to 30 from 29, and backlog of orders dipped to 13 from 14. Capacity utilization slid to 16 from 21, the vendor lead time index fell to zero from 7, the number of employees index decreased to 15 from 18, while the average workweek index was at 7, unchanged from the previous month, and the wages index was 25, up from 23 last month. The capital expenditures index was 17, after 20 last month.

The finished goods inventories index held at 7, while the raw materials index grew to 21 from 17 the previous month.

The current trend in prices paid slid to 2.30 in May from 2.71 in April, while slipping to 0.98 from 1.19 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months dropped to 2.46 from 2.55 for prices paid, and fell to 1.08 from 1.95 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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