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US manufacturing output expands sharply in April: ISM

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The US manufacturing sector expanded for the eleventh consecutive month, as broad-based advances throughout the goods-producing industries boosted hiring at a sharper rate.

The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of national manufacturing activity rose in April from 53.7 to 54.9. A median estimate of market analysts called for 54.3. The US manufacturing industry has been above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction for eleven consecutive months.

Seventeen of the 18 manufacturing industries advanced in April, led by apparel, leather and allied products, primary metals, and furniture and related products. The only industry to report contraction was nonmetallic mineral products.

New orders expanded for the eleventh consecutive month at a similar rate to the previous month. Thirteen of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in new orders, ISM data showed. New export orders rose at a faster rate, with 12 industries reporting advances. The new export order sub-index rose 1.5 percentage points to 57.

Manufacturing employment accelerated at a faster pace in April, with 15 of the 18 manufacturing industries reporting increased hiring. Among the leaders were apparel, leather and allied products, wood products, and furniture and related products. Textile mills and plastic and rubber products were the only industries to report job loss last month.

“Winter weather has slowed order intake but not inquiries,” said one purchasing manager from fabricated metal products. “ We think there is pent-up demand waiting for the weather to break.”

“Overall business is up. Hiring is also up. Skilled trades in short supply,” said another from transportation equipment.

The US economy, having barely expanded in the first quarter, appears to be back on track. The April reading suggests employers are responding to increased demand by boosting employment, which will in turn continue to fuel the recovery. The US economy is projected to grow 2.8 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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