The Richmond, Va., Federal Reserve Bank said manufacturing activity picked up in November after sliding modestly in the previous month. The diffuse business index for the region that fell into negative territory in October rose from minus 7 to 9 in the month. In the previous month, six of eight of the broad component indicators that make up the diffuse index were negative. For November, indexes measuring the volume of new orders and the number of employees in the month moved into positive territory. The index for average work week slipped, but remained above zero, dropping from 3 to 2. The wages index was unchanged at 10. The index uses zero as a break even point. Above zero indicates growth. The shipments index moved sharply from minus 9 to 11. New orders rose from minus 6 to 11. The backlog of orders remained negative, dropping from minus 3 to minus 9.