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Philly Fed Disappoints as Indicators Point to Economic Rut

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Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region unexpectedly slowed in April while a gauge of future U.S. economic activity fell last month, two separate releases showed on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index fell to 1.3 from 2.0 the month before. That was shy of economists' expectations for 3.0, according to a Reuters poll.

(Click here to track the U.S. stock market reaction to these economic reports.)

Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region's manufacturing. The survey covers factories in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

It is seen as one of the first monthly indicators of the health of U.S. manufacturing leading up to the national report by the Institute for Supply Management.

Leading Indicators Fall

A gauge of future U.S. economic activity fell in March for the first time in seven months, reinforcing the view that the American economy has fallen into a rut.

The Conference Board said on Thursday that its Leading Economic Index dropped 0.1 percent to 94.7 last month.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to rise 0.1 percent in March.

The decline last month was driven by weak readings in surveys of consumer expectations and new orders at factories, as well as a drop in new construction permits.

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