Manufacturing continued to expand in November, reaching its highest level of the year, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly manufacturing index released today.

The PMI grew to 57.3% in November from 56.4% in October, ISM reported. Showing strong growth were both the new orders index, up 3 points to 63.6%, and the production index, up 2 percentage points to 62.8%. The employment index also rose, up to 56.5%, an increase of 3.3 percentage points and the highest reading since April 2012.

“With 15 of 18 manufacturing industries reporting growth in November relative to October, the positive growth trend characterizing the second half of 2013 is continuing," said Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of ISM’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

The ISM numbers reflect recent “more positive” conversations with manufacturing clients, said Russ Rasmus, managing director of Accenture’s manufacturing practice, as orders and capacity utilization grow. “Manufacturers are excited by what they are starting to see. I’m not sure they are fully bullish as they look forward.”

The continued rise in the index beat the consensus prediction of analysts, who had expected the index to fall back modestly to 55.4 in November.

The November survey “suggests that U.S. manufacturing is set for a positive finish to a mixed year,” said Cliff Waldman, senior economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). Still, he noted that recent ISM data “have been notably stronger than other manufacturing-related indicators and have to be interpreted against the backdrop of a challenging domestic and world business climate.”

Concern about U.S. government actions has contributed to recent caution in the market, said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers. “We saw that in the recent government shutdown, and with additional budget deadlines at the beginning of next year, there is some worry that policymakers might fail to reach a deal once more.” But he said, “the overriding theme in this report is the strong increases in manufacturing orders and production over the past few months.”