WASHINGTON – U.S. manufacturing activity rose for the third month in a row in August to the highest point of 2013, a monthly industry survey released Tuesday showed.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector climbed to 55.7 in August from 55.4 percent in July. The July index had jumped from 50.9 in June.
The increase in the August PMI reading surprised analysts who had forecast on average the index would drop to 53.6.
"This is a big surprise to us, given the powerful seasonal adjustment forces acting to push the number down this month after the July jump," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
"The big driver this month is a second straight leap in orders, to a 28-month high of 63.2," he said.
The index for new orders jumped 4.9 percentage points from July to 63.2, the highest level since April 2011.
The prices index advanced 5.0 points to 54.0, reflecting rises in overall raw materials prices, ISM noted.
The production index fell 2.6 points to 62.4 and the employment reading slipped 1.1 points to 53.3.
"Comments from the panel range from slow to improving business conditions depending upon the industry," the ISM said in the report.
Fifteen of the 18 manufacturing industries surveyed reported growth in August.
The PMI index has been above 50, which indicates expansion, for the first eight months this year except May, when it dipped to 49.0.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013