A reading above 50 indicates that the sector is expanding. The September figure was the best since April 2011. Economists had expected the index to drop to 55 last month. Production, inventories and employment at the nation's factories were up. Of the 18 industries the index tracks, 11 reported growth in September.
However, in a worrisome sign of future activity, the index for new orders dropped 2.7 percentage points to 60.5 in September. Still, the figure was the second-highest monthly reading in 2013 and high compared with activity over the past three years.
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