“Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region contracted more sharply in October,” according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and released yesterday. Meanwhile, sentiment about future prospects edged lower.

The manufacturing index declined to negative 26 in October from 18 in September.

Shipments slipped to negative 24 from negative 16, the Fed reported. Volume of new orders dipped to negative 35 from negative 23, and the backlog of orders index declined to negative 40 from negative 24.

The capacity utilization index fell to negative 27 from negative 15, and the vendor lead-time index dropped to negative 9 from zero. The number of employees index widened to negative 15 from negative 13, while the average workweek index was negative 14 after a negative 2 reading last month, and the wages index dipped to negative 4 from negative 2.

As for the future outlook — six months from now — the shipments index was 6, down from 11 posted last month, while the volume of new orders index rose to 6 from 5, and backlog of orders dropped to negative 1 from zero. Capacity utilization remained at 5, the vendor lead time index improved to negative 4 from negative 6, the number of employees index fell to negative 19 from negative 8, the average workweek index was at negative 3, up from negative 10 the previous month, and the wages index rose to 29 from 22. The capital expenditures index was negative 18, down from negative 6 last month.

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