Factory activity picked up the pace of its expansion in March, according to the most recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
The Richmond Fed’s composite index rose from 14 in February to 17 in March, beating estimates for a rise to 15, data released Tuesday showed.
The move up was driven by a sharp increase in the shipments index, the Fed said.
Two other closely watched components — new orders and employment — held steady. Survey respondents were optimistic that conditions would continue to improve in the coming months.
The average growth rates of both prices paid and prices received increased in March, with growth of prices paid continued to outpace that of prices received.
The Richmond Fed’s report covers the Fifth District of the Federal Reserve system. It includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia excluding the Northern Panhandle.