Factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region grew more than expected in February as new orders jumped to their highest in more than five years, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose to 17.6 from 15.2 in January.

Economists had expected a reading of 17.0, based on the results of a Reuters poll, which ranged widely from 0.0 to 23.0.

Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region's manufacturing.

The report's index of new orders jumped to 22.7 from 3.2, reaching its highest since September 2004 while a gauge of employment hit its highest in more than two years.

The survey, which covers factories in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware, is seen as one of the first monthly indicators of the health of U.S. manufacturing.

On Tuesday a report showed manufacturing in New York state rose to its highest since October.

(Reporting by Burton Frierson; Editing by James Dalgleish)