NEW YORK Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region unexpectedly shrank in November due to disruption from superstorm Sandy, which slammed the U.S. Northeast in late October, a survey said on Thursday.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index slumped to -10.7 from 5.7 the month before. The fall was much steeper than economists' expectations for a slip to 2.0, according to a Reuters poll.
Any reading below zero indicates contraction 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.
The new orders sub-index fell to -4.6 from -0.6, although the employment gauge ticked up somewhat but was still contractionary, coming in at -6.8 from -10.7.
Survey respondents' view on the coming months fell slightly, with the gauge of business conditions for the next six months edging down to 20.0 from 21.6. (Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by James Dalgleish)