Philly Fed manufacturing index plunges in April

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The numbers:The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index in April dropped to -56.6 after registering -12.5 in March. This is the lowest reading since July 1980.

Any reading below zero indicates deteriorating conditions. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a -37.5 reading.

What happened: The headline index is based on a single stand alone question about business conditions unlike the manufacturing index which is a composite based on components

The components were also weak. The new orders index fell to -70.9 in April from -15.5 in the prior month. The employment index dropped to -46.7 from 4.1 in March. Firms do expect things to get better in six months as the index for future activity rose 8 points to 43.

Big picture: The plunge in the Philly Fed comes after a record plunge in the New York Empire State index. Economists think the national ISM factory index will also be weak ax the manufacturing sector is hit by the shutdown.

Market reaction: U.S. equity benchmarks were set to open slightly higher on Thursday as the White House said it was readying guidelines for reopening parts of the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.75% fell 445 points on Wednesday.

Originally Published on MarketWatch

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