Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region contracted this month after improving slightly in April, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday. The Philly Fed survey reflected similar results announced a day earlier by the Federal Reserve in the New York City region.

In the Philadelphia region, the bank's survey indicators were uniformly negative this month, but factory managers responses, reported confidentially to the bank, suggest firms expect overall growth over the next six months, the bank said.

The Philly Fed's widely watched index of manufacturing conditions fell from a positive 1.3 in April to minus 5.2 for May. A positive number indicates expansion, a negative number means contraction.

Survey indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments suggest weaker conditions, and firms reported employment reductions during May, the bank said.

The bank said its "current activity index has shown no pattern of sustained growth over the past seven months, generally alternating between positive and negative readings." - Reid Kanaley