Manufacturing conditions in Philadelphia continued to improve for the third consecutive month and input prices increased, according to a survey report on Thursday.

The survey's broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased from a reading of 22.5 in November to 24.3 in December, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey said.

The survey is a measure of manufacturing conditions that helps predict how manufacturing activity in the U.S. is currently doing.

The new orders index also rose 4 points for the third straight month.

Price inputs for manufacturing firms also reported a rise, indicating stronger times ahead for the manufacturing sector.

The view was supported by the future general activity index, which remained positive for the 24th consecutive month and increased 2 points, to a reading of 50.5, its highest reading in nine months.

The data was in contrast to the housing data earlier in the day, where permits for new houses fell surprisingly, despite a rise in housing starts.