* Philly Fed’s business gauge falls for second straight month
* Measure on regional new orders declines from three-decade peak
* Manufacturing employment hits highest in nearly six years
* Mid-Atlantic firms plan for more capital spending in 2017 (Adds quote, details on latest data)
NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Federal Reserve said on Thursday its gauge on manufacturing activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region fell to its lowest level in four months in April, retreating further from a 33-year peak reached in February.
The regional central bank’s business conditions index fell to 22.0 in April from 32.8 in March. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a reading of 25.0 this month.
“They have come down from really high levels, but these are still very good, positive readings,” Michael Trebing, senior economic analyst at the Philadelphia Fed, told a conference call with reporters.
Various measures on U.S. business confidence had soared shortly following Donald Trump’s surprise win in the presidential elections in November as business owners and company executives hoped Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress would slash taxes, loosen regulations and enact heavy spending on infrastructure. But they have begun to recede from their peaks.
The Philadelphia Fed’s barometer on new orders, a key gauge of future activity, slipped to 27.4 from 38.6 in March which was the strongest since December 1987.
The measure of the six-month business outlook decreased to 45.4 from 59.5 in March which was the highest since August 2014.
The component on prices paid declined to 33.7 from March’s 40.7 which was the strongest since May 2011.
On the other hand, the survey’s employment index climbed to 19.9 in April, the highest since May 2011, while its gauge on capital expenditures in six months stepped up to 36.5 from 34.5 in March.
In a special section in this month’s survey, 51.5 percent of the firms said they plan to increase their capital spending this year due to expected higher sales. This compared with 40 percent a year earlier.
Moreover, 36.7 percent of the respondents said their capital spending will take place in the first half of this year, while the rest plans to do so in the second half. (Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)