FXStreet (Mumbai) - The Philadelphia Fed today announced a drop in the manufacturing index for December. Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region slipped into negative territory in December, falling to -5.9. This is the third negative reading in the past four months. Economists had expected the reading to come in at 1, on a scale where readings above zero imply improve in conditions. December’s reading is also lower than 1.9 recorded in November. Manufacturing activity has been hurt by strong dollar, slowing foreign demand and of course the slump in oil prices. Almost all of the survey’s future indicators showed notable weakening this month. The indexes for new orders and shipments were mixed. The index for current new orders remained negative and fell to -9.5. Firms however reported higher shipments. The current shipments index increased 6 points to a reading of 3.7. Firms also reported a fall in unfilled orders, with the index dropping to -17.7 from the erstwhile 2.4. The current inventories index however registered some improvement. It increased 9 points to its first positive reading in four months. Manufactured goods prices declined this month with percentage of firms reporting lower input prices greater than the percentage of firms reporting higher input prices. The future looks does not look too bright either. The index for future general activity fell to 23.0 in December from November’s 43.4 reading, marking the lowest reading for the index since November 2012. The percentage of firms which expect conditions to improve over the next six months fell from 50 per cent in November to 35 per cent this month. Firms however have reported slight increases in overall employment as well as an increase in average work hours in December compared with November. A Separate report showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week dropped from a five-month high signifying further strengthening of the labor market. For more information, read our latest forex news.