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Mid-Atlantic Manufacturing Slides Further in April

Factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region contracted for a fifth straight month in April, a survey released on Thursday showed.

Meanwhile, a key forecasting gauge of the U.S. economy inched up in March, after dropping five months in a row, but the future may still be dim for recovery, the private Conference Board said.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index shrank to minus 24.9, much more than expected and the lowest since February 2001, from minus 17.4 in March.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a reading of negative 15.0.

Any reading below zero indicates contraction in the region's manufacturing sector. The 58 estimates in the Reuters poll ranged from minus 25.0 to negative 5.0.

The index tracks manufacturing in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

Separately, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators index rose 0.1 percent in March, exceeding analysts' expectations that it would remain unchanged after a 0.3 percent decline in February.

"While latest data do not support the assertion that we're in a recession, growth remains weak, a situation that may continue into the third and fourth quarters," said Ken Goldstein, the Conference Board's labor economist, in a statement.

"There's been no job growth over the past three months, and overall profits have declined." The coincident index, a measure of current economic conditions, also rose 0.1 percent in March after dropping 0.2 percent in February.

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