WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers expanded at the fastest pace in nearly seven years last month, as factories continue to boost economic growth.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of manufacturing activity rose to 61.4 in February, up from 60.8 in January. That’s the highest reading since it reached 61.4 in May 2004. The ISM’s index bottomed out at 33.3 in December 2008, its lowest point in nearly 30 years.
Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The manufacturing sector has now expanded for the past 19 months.
A gauge measuring orders rose and an employment index topped 60 for only the third time in a decade. But prices paid for raw materials rose for the third straight month, a sign that inflation could be a problem.