Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region contracted for the third straight month in July, a pessimistic sign that the economy has weakened. But some analysts say the report might only reflect a regional slowdown.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia says its index of regional manufacturing activity rose to -12.9, up from -16.6 in June. Any reading below zero indicates contraction.

Some parts of the report improved. New orders and shipments rose, though both remained in negative territory. But an index measuring employment dropped sharply from 1.8 to -8.4.

The report differs from a New York Fed survey, released Monday, that said factories were expanding in that region. And the Fed's Beige Book, a national survey released Wednesday, said manufacturing improved in 10 of the central bank's 12 regions.