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Philadelphia Manufacturing Index Falls

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's manufacturing index that measures activity in the region came up shorter than expected Thursday morning.

Philadelphia (


) -- The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's manufacturing index that measures activity in the region came up shorter than expected Thursday morning.

The Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index came in at -0.7, after a reading of -7.1 in August. Economists had expected the index to come in at 2, according to


While the reading was only slightly below negative, it was the second straight month of negative numbers after 10 consecutive months of positive numbers. Any reading above zero indicates growth; negative numbers point to contraction.

"For the second consecutive month, firms reported a decline in both new orders and shipments. Employment levels remained steady this month, but firms reported declines in average work hours. The survey's broad indicators of future activity continue to suggest that the region's manufacturing executives expect growth in business over the next six months, but optimism remains below levels earlier in the year," the Philly Fed said.

The major indexes were lower in early trading. The

SPDR S&P 500

(SPY) - Get Free Report

, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the S&P 500, traded down 0.3%, the

SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average

(DIA) - Get Free Report

ETF lost less than 0.1% and the

PowerShares QQQ Trust


fell 0.3%.

Earlier this week, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey index dropped 3 points to 4.1 for early September, after rising 2 points for a reading of 7.1 in August. Economists expected the index to decline to a reading of 6.4, according to


>>Empire State Manufacturing Falls

Employment indexes were positive, suggesting that employment levels and the average workweek continued to expand over the month, the New York Fed reported.

The degree of optimism about the six-month outlook in New York continued to deteriorate, with the future general business conditions index hitting its lowest level since early 2009. The future general business conditions index fell 4 points to a reading of 31.3, indicating that manufacturers still expect business conditions to improve but at a less robust pace than previously thought.

The New York surveys have shown a slowdown in recent months and are closely watched by investors. September's reading of 7.1 was sharply lower than the average of 23.5 in the second quarter.

The NY Empire State Index

is a seasonally-adjusted index that tracks the Empire State Manufacturing Survey which is distributed to around 175 manufacturing executives asking questions that gauge their current sentiment and their six-month outlook on the sector. It is a regional economic indicator of conditions in one of the most populated states in the U.S.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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