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The Dallas Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index contracted for a 16th straight month, falling to -13.9 in April.
Economists had forecast that the index rose a bit to -10 from -13.6 in March, according to Bloomberg.
Although the headline index slipped, factory activity expanded for a second straight month, and production output grew. New orders, shipments and wages also increased.
But labor-market indicators showed that employment was still weak.
The survey respondents were mixed about the outlook for their companies and general business conditions.
The index was much stronger than expected last month, rebounding along with other regional manufacturing surveys that showed some improvement in March.
Still, it has not turned positive since December 2014. Manufacturers tied to the energy industry have reported sharp declines in activity following the drop in oil prices.
- Dallas Fed