US factory activity improved in December

January 03, 2018 - 10:23 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers expanded at a faster pace in December, boosted by a sharp increase in new orders.

The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index rose to 59.7 last month from 58.2 in November. Any reading above 50 points to greater factory activity. Manufacturing has been expanding for the past 16 months.

New orders jumped in December, while production also rose. The pace of hiring slipped, although it remained positive.

The ISM, a trade association of purchasing managers, said 16 of 18 manufacturing industries expanded in December. Among the sectors seeing growth were machinery, computer and electronics and chemicals.

U.S. manufacturers have been helped this year by a solid global economy and a decline in the dollar's value, which helps to make exports more competitive abroad.

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