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Manufacturing growth saw jump in February

WASHINGTON — Manufacturing expanded at a faster pace than projected in February, a sign the industry was beginning to overcome bad weather across much of the United States.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to 53.2 last month from 51.3 in January, the group reported Monday. Readings above 50 signal expansion.

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Manufacturing accounts for about 12 percent of the economy. The ISM’s factory gauge averaged 53.9 for all of last year.

The ISM’s gauge of new orders increased to 54.5 from 51.2, while the production index fell to 48.2, the weakest since 2009, from 54.8. A measure of orders waiting to be filled rose to 52 from 48.

The employment index held at 52.3 in January. The inventory index climbed to 52.5 from 44, while a gauge of customer stockpiles increased to 46.5 from 44. A measure of export orders decreased to 53.5 from 54.5. The index of prices paid changed only slightly, to 60 from 60.5.

Data on manufacturing across the globe have been mixed. In China, a pair of factory gauges declined in February, while European manufacturing expanded more in February than previously estimated as a gauge of French factories rose to a five-month high.

In the United States, recent regional reports on the industry have been mixed. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s factory gauge dropped to minus 6.3 last month, the weakest reading in a year. from 9.4 in January. Business activity in the Chicago area accelerated unexpectedly, figures from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. showed.

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