The numbers: The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s business activity index rose to 30.7 in September from 19.4 in August, snapping a four-month streak of declines, the regional bank said Thursday.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal expected an 18.9 reading. Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.

What happened: The gauge of new orders fell 7 points to 15.9, while the shipments index gained 11 points to 29.9 in September.

Unfilled orders fell 1.6 points in September to 5.4 from the previous month.

The reading of the six-month business outlook fell to 20 from August’s reading of 33.7.

The index of the number of employees fell to 26.3 from 32.6 last month, the regional bank said.

The prices-paid index fell to 67.3 from August’s reading of 71.2, while the prices-received index edged lower to 52.9, down from August’s reading of 53.9, which was the highest since May of 1974.

Big picture: Manufacturing activity in eastern and central Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware surged in September, following a trend set by the Empire Manufacturing index released on Wednesday.

The two readings could point to strengthening conditions in manufacturing nationally. Investors are looking forward to the Institute of Supply Management’s national manufacturing index in early October.

Market reaction: Stock-index futures
YM00,
+0.02%

ES00,
-0.13%

were trading mixed before the start of trade Thursday.

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