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US manufacturing data cheers

US manufacturers were busy in April as factories ramped up production to rebuild inventories though soft labour markets still point to a relatively slow economic recovery, data revealed yesterday. Expansion in manufacturing was highlighted by the New York Federal Reserve’s “Empire State” general business conditions index which rose to a six-month high of 31.86 in April from 22.86 last month.

Separately, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s business activity index rose to its highest level in four months during April. The rise in the index to 20.2 from 18.9 the prior month was a touch above market expectations.

Meanwhile, a report from the Federal Reserve showed overall industrial production rose only 0.1 per cent in March as heating needs fell, while manufacturing output increased 0.9 per cent in March, led by widespread gains among durable goods industries.