“Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region contracted at a less pronounced rate in January,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

“The index of overall activity edged up a bit as growth in new orders turned slightly positive,” the survey said. “Growth in shipments contracted at a somewhat slower pace, while employment contracted at a slightly quicker rate. Other indicators were also mixed. The pace of decreasing backlogs and capacity utilization were on par with December, while vendor delivery times increased. In addition, manufacturers reported slightly slower growth in inventories.”

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