By Xavier Fontdegloria
Manufacturing activity across the central Atlantic region of the U.S. grew in December at a quicker pace than that of November, data from a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond showed Tuesday.
The Fifth District Survey of Manufacturing Activity's composite index stood at 19 in December, up from the 15 reading registered in November. The figure beats FactSet's forecast of 11.
The indicator is compiled by surveying manufacturing firms across the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which encompasses the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and most of West Virginia. Positive readings signal expansion, while negative readings indicate contraction.
All three components of the index--new orders, shipments and employment--had positive readings in December, but only two of them increased compared with the previous month.
The rise was driven by a surge in the volume of new orders index, which climbed to 24 from 12 the prior month.
The employment index also rose significantly to 20 compared with November's 13. "Survey results indicated that many firms increased employment and wages in December. However, manufacturers struggled to find workers with the necessary skills," the Richmond Fed Said.
The shipments index fell to 12 in December from 20 in November, data showed.
Indexes for local business conditions and capital spending were also positive, and manufacturers were optimistic that conditions would improve in the coming months, the report said.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 22, 2020 10:35 ET (15:35 GMT)Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.