"Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region pulled back in December from positive territory after expanding during the previous seven months," according to the monthly business activity survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

"All broad indicators of activity — shipments, new orders, and employment — landed in negative territory," the survey said. "Most other indicators also suggested additional softness. Capacity utilization turned negative following seven months of improvement, while backlogs held steady. Vendor delivery times were virtually unchanged, while manufacturers reported slightly quicker growth in inventories."

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