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U.S. Factories Outpace Their Global Rivals

Wall Street Journal (03/03/13) Neil Shah

The Institute for Supply Management’s measure of U.S. factory activity rose in February for the third consecutive month to 54.2. A number above 50 points to growth. Exports rose to a nine-month high, and new orders and order backlogs, both of which indicate future business, climbed significantly. U.S. “manufacturers are now seeing a rebound in domestic demand, especially the early cyclical industries,” says Joseph Carson, an economist at Alliance Bernstein. An ISM index tracking new orders rose to 57.8 from 53.3 in January—the biggest jump since March 2010—while a separate index for production rose to 57.6 from 53.6. The “overall tone in manufacturing is clearly positive,” says Brad Holcomb, chairman of the ISM’s manufacturing-survey panel. “As for how sustainable this is, we suspect we will stay in a pretty tight range for the next couple of months.”