Digits: The Philadelphia Fed said Thursday that its gauge of regional business activity edged to negative 23.2 in March from negative 24.3 in the previous month. Any reading below zero indicates a deteriorating condition. This is the seventh negative reading in a row and the ninth in the last ten months. Key Details: Broader indicators were all negative in the data in March. The barometer on new orders fell to negative 28.2 in March from negative 13.6 in the previous month. The shipment index dipped 8 to negative 25.4. A measure of the six-month business outlook weakened to negative 8 in March from 1.7 in the previous month.
Big picture: Manufacturing health is deteriorating in March. Earlier this week, the same Empire State Survey released by the New York Fed showed manufacturing activity fell 18.8 points to a negative 24.6 in March. The ISM factory index rose slightly to 47.7% in February, falling below the key 50 breakeven mark for the fourth straight month. Manufacturers in the national survey expressed no alarm about business activity, seeing the slowdown as temporary. Market Reaction: Stocks DJIA, +0.60% SPX, +1.16% were set to open slightly lower Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, at 3.524%, fell to 3.42%.