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Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index rebounds in March as orders, shipments rise

Manufacturing activity in the three-state mid-Atlantic region rebounded much more sharply than expected in March, showing improvements in new orders and shipments, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Manufacturing Business Outlook Survey.

The diffusion index for current manufacturing activity rebounded to 13.7 in March from negative 4.1 in the previous month. The Econoday consensus forecast was for the index to rebound to 5.5.

The new-orders index in the month rebounded to 1.9 from negative 2.4 in February, and the index for shipments recovered to 20.0 from negative 5.3.

The measure for inventories climbed to 17.2, compared with 3.3 in February.

The diffusion index for future general activity declined to 21.8 from 31.3, marking the lowest reading since February 2016. Approximately 42% of the respondents in the Philadelphia Fed's survey expect activity to rise over the next six months, while 20% foresee activity to decline.

The survey covers central and eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware.