The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s regional manufacturing index surged at the start of 2020 as rebounds in sales and orders offered signs of stabilization in an otherwise beleaguered factory sector.
The gauge jumped to 20 in January, the highest since September 2018, from minus 5 a month earlier, the Richmond Fed reported on Tuesday. It marked the largest monthly advance since March 2016.
The report offers hope for U.S. manufacturing in 2020 after separate data earlier Tuesday showed orders for business equipment fell in December, capping a year of subdued investment. The Philadelphia Fed and New York Fed earlier this month reported manufacturing gauges that were the highest since May.
The Richmond Fed’s measure of shipments, or sales, jumped to the highest level since March 2004. Its gauge of new orders increased to an 11-month high. Employment at mid-Atlantic factories expanded at the fastest pace since March 2019.
The survey spans the Richmond Fed’s district covering Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, the District of Columbia and most of West Virginia.
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