Partly reflecting a jump in demand, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released a report on Thursday unexpectedly showing another substantial acceleration in the pace of growth in Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity in the month of February.
The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current general activity skyrocketed to 36.7 in January after spiking to 17.0 in January, with a positive reading indicating growth in regional manufacturing activity.
The continued increase by the Philly Fed Index came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the index to dip to 12.0. With the unexpected jump, the Philly Fed Index reached its highest reading since February of 2017.
The unexpected spike by the headline index partly reflected a jump in demand, with the new orders index surging up to 33.6 in February from 18.2 in January. The index hit its best level since May of 2018.
The shipments index also crept up to 25.2 in February from 23.4 in January, although the number of employees index slumped to 9.8 from 19.3, indicating a slowdown in the pace of job growth.
On the inflation front, the prices paid index fell to 16.4 in February from 22.1 in January, while the prices received index rose to 17.1 from 14.7.
The Philly Fed said the survey's broad future indexes also showed improvement this month, indicating that growth is expected to continue over the next six months.
The diffusion index for future general activity climbed to 45.4 in February from 38.4 in January, its fifth consecutive month of improvement.
"This report adds to the shine of the Empire Manufacturing report released earlier this week and suggests manufacturing growth may be past its trough," said a note from economists at Oxford Economics.
On Tuesday, the New York Fed released a separate report showing a notable acceleration in regional manufacturing activity in the month of February.
The New York Fed said its general business conditions index climbed to 12.9 in February from 4.8 in January. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 5.0.