Two economic benchmark reports released Thursday showed signs that the decline in the manufacturing sector is easing, which should provide some encouragement to makers of construction equipment, farm equipment and other industrial goods.
According to respondents to the June survey published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, declines in the Pennsylvania region's manufacturing sector diminished significantly this month. Indicators for new orders and shipments suggest steadier levels of activity, in contrast with the series of continuous large declines suggested in previous surveys, the report said.
Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board, said the group's leading economic index increased for the second consecutive month, showing that the recession is losing steam.
"Confidence is rebuilding and financial market volatility is abating. Even the housing market appears to be stabilizing," Goldstein said. "If these trends continue, expect a slow recovery beginning before the end of the year. However, employment will take longer to turn around."
More firms in the Federal Reserve report said they expect to expand hiring than firms that say they will contract employment.
But individual manufacturers are still showing signs of weakness in sales activity. The world's largest maker of construction equipment reported 43 percent decline in sales for the three months ended May 30, compared with the same period a year ago.