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US manufacturing grows at fastest pace in 3½ years

WASHINGTON — US manufacturing grew in August at the strongest pace in more than three years as factories cranked out more goods and new orders rose.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to 59 from 57.1 in July, the ISM said Tuesday. That was the highest reading since March 2011. Any measure above 50 signals that manufacturing is growing.

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Tuesday’s ISM report coincides with other signs that manufacturing is helping drive the US economy’s improvement. Factories are benefiting from strong demand for aircraft, furniture, and steel and other metals. The boost from manufacturing has helped offset slower homebuilding, a slowdown in consumer purchases, and weaker spending on utilities and other services.

‘‘The US economy is on a notably firmer growth track this summer, even if consumers are riding in the caboose,’’ Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research note.

The ISM’s gauge of production rose to the highest level in four years, and a measure of new orders reached its highest point in 10 years. That suggests the sector should grow further in coming months. Factories also added jobs last month, though at a slightly slower pace than in July.

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