Philly Fed factory growth activity surges in July

Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region accelerated in July at its fastest pace in more than three years, handily beating expectations, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose to 23.9, its highest since March 2011, from 17.8 in June. That was sharply above expectations for 16.0, according to a Reuters poll. It also beat the highest estimate of 21.0.

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

New orders soared to 34.2, the highest since July 2004, from 16.8. The employment component improved slightly, to 12.2 from 11.9.

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Survey respondents' view on the coming months also perked up with the gauge of business conditions for the next six months rising to 58.1 from 52.0.

The data 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.

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— By Reuters