Manufacturers in the Philadelphia region this month reported the best business conditions since April, along with an improved outlook for the next six months, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported.

The closely watched Philadelphia "Business Outlook Survey" by the Fed followed reported declines in business activity in late October and early November due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Firms responding to the survey reported increases in overall activity, new orders, shipments, and employment compared to the declines reported in November following Sandy, the bank said.

Eighty firms from the region, which includes Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware, participated in the survey, a bank official said.

A slightly increased share of firms reported receiving higher prices for their manufactured goods this month. The survey's future-activity indexes suggest that firms expect growth to continue over the first six months of 2013.

The survey's broadest measure, called a diffusion index of current activity, increased from a reading of minus 10.7 in November to 8.1 in December. Readings above zero indicate expansion.