PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region weakened in August after two months of slowing, according to a survey released Thursday by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.
The Philly Fed said its index of current activity dropped to a negative number, marking a period of declining monthly activity for the first time since July 2009. The index fell to -7.7 from a reading of 5.1 in July.
New orders and shipments activity also slowed in August, with index numbers for both negative -- new orders at -7.1 and shipments at -4.5.
The report covers businesses in the third federal district, which encompasses eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.
The Philly Fed said 23 percent of firms reported a decline in employment while 20 percent reported an increase.
Despite the negative trends, firms expect continued growth in their manufacturing business over the next six months, but that outlook has been somewhat dampened over the past few months.
The future general activity index remained positive for the 20th consecutive month at 19.6, down from 25 in July. The future new orders index increased to 25.7 from 17.9 percent and shipments remained unchanged at 21.7.