Factory activity growth in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region accelerated in March, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose to 18.9 in March from 17.6 in February.

Economists had expected a reading of 18.0, based on the results of a Reuters poll, which ranged from 14.0 to 23.0.

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

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.

(Reporting by Burton Frierson; Editing by James Dalgleish)