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US manufacturing expanded slightly

Published: 1/3/13 @ 12:00


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

U.S. manufacturing grew slightly last month, and factory hiring increased. The modest gain suggests the economy entered the new year with some momentum.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of manufacturing activity rose in December to 50.7. That’s up from a reading of 49.5 in November, which was the lowest reading since July 2009, one month after the recession ended.

A reading above 50 indicates growth, while a reading below signals contraction. The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers.

A measure of employment increased last month to 52.7. That’s up from 48.4 in November, which was the first time the employment gauge fell below 50 in three years.

Factories have cut jobs in three of the four months through November, according to government data. The jump in employment in the ISM survey suggests manufacturers may have stepped up hiring last month.

The Labor Department releases the December jobs report Friday.