U.S. Manufacturing Activity Hits 2004 High

Employment also rose 2.8 percentage points, to 64.5%, climbing above 60% for only the third time in the last decade.

Manufacturing grew for the 19th straight month in February as a jump in employment and production drove activity to a nearly six-year high, The Institute of Supply Managementa key industry survey showed on March 1. Its Purchasing Managers Index rose to 61.4% from January's reading of 60.8%.

"The last time the index was this high was in mid-2004 when the manufacturing sector decisively broke out of the 2001 recession," said Daniel J. Meckstroth, Chief Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "All the important components, such as orders, production, employment, and exports are at lofty levels and improving from the previous month.

"Manufacturing production is clearly accelerating again following an inventory adjustment at the end of last year," he added. "Strong growth in business equipment investment, high prices for materials, and consumer-led rebound for motor vehicles and other durable goods purchases are driving domestic demand for manufacturing. A robust export market for U.S. goods only enhances the positive impact on industrial production."

Production rose 2.8 percentage points, while new orders edged up 0.2%.

Employment also rose 2.8 percentage points, to 64.5%, climbing above 60% "for only the third time in the last decade," siad Norbert Ore, head of the ISM manufacturing survey committee.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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