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Factory activity soars in Philadelphia region

Factory activity soars in Philadelphia region (by Greg Robb)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Manufacturing activity surged in the Philadelphia region in March to its highest level since the summer of 1984, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve reported Thursday. The bank's business condition index rose to 43.4 in March from 35.9 in February. The increase surprised analysts. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected the index to move down to 30.9. The index for new orders jumped to 40.3 in March from 23.7 in February. Despite the gain, the index for number of employees slipped to 18.2 in March from 23.6 in the prior month. The prices paid index edged down to 63.8 in March from 67.2 in February.