NEW YORK – “Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region advanced somewhat faster in April following slightly slower growth in March,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. “A significant increase in the shipments component pushed the overall index higher, while employment grew at a rate above March's pace and growth in new orders held nearly steady. Most other indicators also suggested solid activity. District contacts reported capacity utilization grew more quickly, while backlogs grew more slowly. In addition, manufacturers reported that delivery times lessened, while inventories grew at a somewhat higher rate.”

The manufacturing index doubled to 14 in April from 7 in March.

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

Shipments soared to 18 from 2, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders grew to 13 from 11, while the backlog of orders index slipped to 2 from 4.

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

As for future outlook (six months from now), the shipments index was 28, up from 26 last month, while the volume of new orders index slid to 29 from 32, and backlog of orders gained to 14 from 11. Capacity utilization fell to 21 from 24, the vendor lead time index fell to 7 from 10, the number of employees index jumped to 18 from 10, while the average workweek index was at 7, off from 9 the previous month, and the wages index was 23, down from 24 last month. The capital expenditures index was 20, after 22 last month.

The finished goods inventories index rose to 7 from 4, while the raw materials index grew to 17 from 14 the previous month.

The current trend in prices paid rose to 2.71 in April from 2.50 in March, while slipping to 1.19 from 1.50 for prices received. The expected trend for the next six months dropped to 2.55 from 2.80 for prices paid, and grew to 1.95 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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