“Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region contracted at a markedly diminished pace in April,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Also, sentiment about future prospects was steady.

The manufacturing index improved to negative 9 in April from negative 20 in March.

Shipments narrowed to negative 3 from negative 15. Volume of new orders gained to negative 2 from negative 20, while the backlog of orders index increased to negative 15 from negative 37.

The capacity utilization index rose to negative 13 from negative 14, while the vendor lead time index narrowed to negative 9 from negative 16. The number of employees index gained to negative 26 from negative 28, while the average workweek index was negative 7 after a negative 30 reading last month, and the wages index climbed to positive 1 from negative 2.

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