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VOL. 125 | NO. 171 | Thursday, September 02, 2010

US Manufacturing Grows for 13th Straight Month

TALI ARBEL | AP Business Writer

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NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. manufacturing expanded in August for the 13th straight month, lifting hopes that economic growth won't stall.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday its manufacturing index rose to 56.3 in August from 55.5 in July. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Manufacturing has helped lead the economy out of the worst recession since the 1930s. The trade group's index has surged since late 2009 and hit a 6-year high in April. But as economic growth has slowed this summer, expansion in the manufacturing sector has leveled off.

Factories have seen rising demand for exports and from businesses that are investing in capital equipment and supplies.

Companies have been replenishing their stockpiles after cutting them during the recession.

And employers at factories are eager to add jobs. The August survey showed managers' desire to hire increased to 60.4 – the strongest level since December 1983.

Job gains at industrial companies have made up about 30 percent of net hiring by businesses and other private organizations in 2010. Manufacturing makes up roughly 10 percent of private-sector jobs.

Lori Jenks, president of a small San Diego company that makes parts for gas turbines, said she is desperate to add a salesperson. She wants to hire someone to help find new business after lowering her sales expectations for the year.

Even with fewer sales this year, she has doubled her sales from the same point in 2009.

Wednesday's report suggests that moderate growth will continue, said Norbert Ore, the chair of the survey.

It is "encouraging as it shows that reports of the demise of the U.S. recovery have been a little premature," said BMO Capital Markets economist Jennifer Lee.

However, a measure of new orders, which are a gauge of future business, dipped to the lowest level since June 2009 after surging earlier this year. That slowdown is consistent with the more moderate pace of growth in the U.S., Europe and China that is expected in the second half of the year, said TD Economics analyst Martin Schwerdtfeger in a research note.

ISM surveys production managers at about 350 companies around the country, including makers of products used by both businesses and consumers such as machinery, food and tobacco, electrical equipment and furniture.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 38 349 15,066
MORTGAGES 111 449 19,779
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 33 91 3,886
BUILDING PERMITS 0 512 35,842
BANKRUPTCIES 62 309 14,343
BUSINESS LICENSES 18 138 5,129
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 69 385 21,817
MARRIAGE LICENSES 13 106 4,663

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