U.S. manufacturing grew at a healthy pace in December as factories stepped up hiring and received more orders. As reported by USA Today, the expansion suggests solid growth at the end of the year.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said Thursday (Jan. 2) that its index of manufacturing activity slipped to 57 from 57.3 in November. But that’s still the second-highest reading in the past 2 1/2 years. And any reading above 50 signals growth.
A measure of new orders rose to the highest level since April 2010. And a gauge of hiring increased to its highest level since June 2011. Production and a measure of manufacturers’ stockpiles fell.
“It is clear that growth remained strong at the end of last year and this should continue into 2014,” said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics.
Overseas demand is growing, but at a much slower rate, the survey found. A gauge of export orders fell to 55 from 59.5.
And a separate report this week showed factories in China expanded in December but at a slower pace than the previous month.
Still, the small decline in the U.S. survey doesn’t dampen the outlook for American factories. The manufacturing index had increased for six straight months through November.
Americans are buying more cars and homes, both of which fuel factory output. Many homebuyers also purchase furniture, appliances and electronics. And companies are stepping up spending on large machinery and other equipment after holding back in the fall.
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