- Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia-region contracted unexpectedly in February, fuelling concerns over the U.S. economic outlook, official data showed on Thursday.

In a report, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index deteriorated to minus 6.3 this month from January’s reading of 9.4. Analysts had expected the index to inch down to 8.0 in February.

On the index, a reading above 0.0 indicates improving conditions, below indicates worsening conditions.

The survey’s broadest indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments suggest moderate declines this month, but comments suggested that much of the weakness was attributable to the severe winter weather that affected the region during the survey period.

The demand for manufactured goods, as measured by the current new orders index, decreased from a reading of 5.1 to -5.2 this month.

Labor market indicators were mixed this month. The current employment index remained positive for the eighth consecutive month but declined 5 points from January.

Following the release of the data, the U.S. dollar held on to gains against the euro, with EUR/USD shedding 0.09% to trade at 1.3722.

Meanwhile, U.S. stock markets were down after the open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1%, the S&P 500 dipped 0.1%, while the Nasdaq 100 declined 0.15%.

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