US sees gains in factory output and jobs data

US factory output across the mid-Atlantic region climbed in October after a poor showing in September, new data shows, while the number of people claiming unemployment benefit has fallen in the past week.

The heartening data is helping to build a picture of a higher economic activity as the US fights to avoid another recession.

Claims for state unemployment benefit fell by 6,000 in the past week but remained very slightly above 400,000, higher than economists had forecast.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rebounded to 8.7 in October, the highest reading in six months, from minus 17.5 in September.

Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the region’s manufacturing. The survey covers factories in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

“This is yet another number consistent with a slow-growing economy, but no recession," said Cary Leahey, a senior economist at Decision Economics in New York.

US markets turned negative after a positive start despite the improvement in the data, with both the Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500 down 0.7 per cent.

“October's Philly Fed index continues the run of much better than expected US figures over recent weeks, which will help lift bond yields, but lessens the likelihood that the Fed delivers QE3 at the Nov 2 meeting.

“Not surprisingly, the stock market seems undecided as to whether this is good news, or whether the probable absence of further stimulus near term is disappointing,” said ING economists Rob Carnell and Teunis Brosens.