Factory Output Up In March

Strongest Improvement Since October

US ManufacturingThe U.S. manufacturing sector is at a five-month high for growth, with output, new business and employment all on the rise, according to a report released this week. Financial data firm Markit adjusted its “flash” U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) to 55.3 this month, up slightly from February’s 55.1 reading. The latest PMI reading signals the strongest overall improvement in manufacturing since October, when the PMI was at 55.9. A reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

“Manufacturing regained further momentum from the slowdown seen at the turn of the year, with output, new orders and employment growth all accelerating in March,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit. Though expansion is likely to pick up as summer approaches, he added, “The rate of expansion in manufacturing clearly remains well below the peaks seen last year, which is largely the result of exporters struggling in the face of a strong dollar.”

Exports saw a decline for the first time in four months, according to the report. Still, due to domestic demand, production volumes were up, growing at the fastest rate in six months. The index’s flash output component rose to 58.2 in March from February’s final reading of 57.3. The index measuring new orders was at 56.4, compared to last month’s 55.8. Employment in the manufacturing sector was up for the 21st month in a row, with the latest job increase the fastest since November, Markit said.