WASHINGTON – U.S. manufacturers expanded in March, ending a five-month streak of declining factory activity.
The Institute for Supply Management says that its manufacturing index rose to 51.8 last month from 49.5 in February. Any reading above 50 signals growth.
But the details of the survey-based report were uneven. New orders and production shot up, but employment at manufacturers contracted.
American manufacturers have been hurt by economic weakness overseas and a strong dollar, which makes U.S. products more expensive in foreign markets. The government jobs report released separately on Friday showed that manufacturers shed 29,000 jobs in March and 18,000 in February.
The ISM, a trade group of purchasing managers, surveys about 200 U.S. companies each month.