RTTNews - A closely-watched regional manufacturing report showed that activity in the mid-Atlantic region continued to declined for an eighth consecutive month in May, though the pace has slackened a bit.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its index of manufacturing activity improved to a reading of negative 22.6 in May, after coming in at negative 24.4 in the previous month.

Any reading below zero indicates contraction in the sector, meaning that manufacturing activity continued to shrink during the month. Still, May's reading represented the highest level since September and marked the third consecutive month of improvement.

New orders declined at a faster pace in the month, with the new orders index dropping to negative 25.9 from a reading of negative 24.3 in April.

Shipments showed a slower rate of decline, with the index measuring this factor dropping to negative 19.0 from negative 35.7 in the previous month.

The reading for the inventories index also rose, coming in at negative 40.2 from 28.6 in April.

The Philly Fed data pointed to more moderate price declines in the month. The prices paid index came in at negative 22 compared to April's level of negative 31. The prices received index rose to negative 33.8 from the previous level of negative 41.4.

There was some signs of stabilization in the labor market. An index measuring the number of employee improved to negative 26.8 from April's mark of negative 44.9 - indicating that companies are cutting workers at a dramatically slower pace.

The average employee workweek also showed a more moderate pace of decline, with an index measuring this component moving to negative 23.2 from negative 41.2.

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