Executive Briefings

U.S. Factory Activity Rose Briskly in February

Sales at U.S. factories rose at the fastest rate in three years in February, another clue the economy is revving toward faster growth this year.

The Institute for Supply Management said its closely watched manufacturing index rose to 57.7 from 56 a month earlier. A reading above 50 indicates sector expansion, as measured by a variety of factors including sales, production and hiring.

While the overall index rose to the highest level since August 2014, sales — as measured by an index of new orders — grew even more quickly. That index rose nearly 5 points to 65.1, the highest since December 2013.

Nearly every corner of manufacturing reported momentum, including textile mills, apparel, computers and tobacco products. Factories boosted their inventories in February for the first time in 20 months, suggesting they are confident the latest spurt in sales will continue.

The biggest factor behind the rebound: Consumers, who are spending steadily after years of steady job growth and a rising stock market, buying products from new cars to furniture.

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The Institute for Supply Management said its closely watched manufacturing index rose to 57.7 from 56 a month earlier. A reading above 50 indicates sector expansion, as measured by a variety of factors including sales, production and hiring.

While the overall index rose to the highest level since August 2014, sales — as measured by an index of new orders — grew even more quickly. That index rose nearly 5 points to 65.1, the highest since December 2013.

Nearly every corner of manufacturing reported momentum, including textile mills, apparel, computers and tobacco products. Factories boosted their inventories in February for the first time in 20 months, suggesting they are confident the latest spurt in sales will continue.

The biggest factor behind the rebound: Consumers, who are spending steadily after years of steady job growth and a rising stock market, buying products from new cars to furniture.

Read Full Article