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Philly Fed Index Unexpectedly Indicates Faster Growth In May

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Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity has unexpectedly expanded at a faster pace in the month of May, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on Thursday.

The Philly Fed said its index for current manufacturing activity in the region climbed to 38.8 in May from 22.0 in April, with a positive reading indicating growth. The index had been expected to dip to 19.5.

The unexpected increase by the Philly Fed index came amid a significant acceleration in the pace of shipment growth, as the shipments index jumped to 39.1 in May from 23.4 in April.

On the other hand, the new orders index dipped to 25.4 in May from 27.4 in April, indicating a modest slowdown in the pace of new order growth.

The number of employees index also edged down to 17.3 in May from 19.9 in April, although it remained positive for the sixth consecutive month.

The report also said the prices paid index fell to 24.2 in May from 33.7 in April, while the prices received index slipped to 15.3 from 16.6.

Looking ahead, the Philly Fed said most of the survey's six-month indicators decreased further from the higher readings seen at the beginning of the year.

The diffusion index for future general activity declined to 34.8 in May from 45.4 in April, moving lower for the second consecutive month.

On Monday, the New York Federal Reserve released a separate report unexpectedly showing a contraction in regional manufacturing activity in the month of May.

The New York Fed said its general business conditions index fell to a negative 1.0 in May from a positive 5.2 in April, with a negative reading indicating a contraction in regional manufacturing activity.

The index's pullback into negative territory came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the index to rise to a positive 7.0.

by RTT Staff Writer

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