U.S. Factory Activity Picks Up

Even though high energy prices are troubling manufacturers, U.S. factory activity picked up in April, the Institute for Supply Management reported on May 1. The ISM industrial index rose to 57.3%, its highest level since November, from 55.2% in March.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion, so the report showed a strengthening pace of growth in the industrial economy.

"The manufacturing sector grew at a faster rate during April as production and employment showed significant strength," ISM survey chief Norbert Ore said.But he added: "While many members indicate that business is good, they still have major concerns about the impact of higher prices for energy and industrial commodities."

Among component indexes in the ISM report, new orders fell to 57.6 in April from 58.4 the month before. The employment reading of new hire in industry advanced to 55.8 from 52.5.

Prices grew faster to an index reading of 71.5 in April, from 66.5.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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