A gauge of manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region grew in May at its slowest pace in seven months.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's index plunged to 3.9, from 18.5 in April. Readings greater than zero signal expansion in the region that includes eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.
Some economists blamed higher fuel bills for the slowdown. That has weighed on consumer and business spending this year. They predict that manufacturing activity will rebound in June now that oil prices are easing.
"Sentiment should begin to recover soon," predicted Ian Shepherdson, economist at High Frequency Economics.
New orders placed with factories and shipments fell, according to the report. However, hiring at factories increased.