The nation's manufacturing sector showed surprising strength in April, growing at a faster-than-expected pace that helped accelerate prices, a trade group said Tuesday.

The Institute for Supply Management, based in Tempe, Ariz., said its manufacturing index registered 54.7, above the March reading of 50.9 and Wall Street's expectation of 51.

Click here to visit FOXBusiness.com's Economy Center.

A reading above 50 indicates growth for the sector, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

The prices paid index rose to 73 in April, compared to 65.5 the previous month. New orders, production and employment also improved significantly, according to the report. The overall economy grew for the 66th consecutive month.

The ISM's manufacturing sector index has bounced above and below the break-even point of 50 for several months, an indication of the overall economy's uncertain path. It showed contraction in November, rebounded in December, fell back again in January, then expanded modestly in February and in March.

Click here to visit FOXBusiness.com's Economy Center.