Economic Report: U.S. manufacturers grow faster in December despite coronavirus surge, ISM finds

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Economic Report

ISM manufacturing survey rises to 60.7% from 57.5%

U.S. carsmakers and other manufacturers have been a bright spot for the economy, but the record surge in coronavirus cases isn’t making it any easier.


cole burston/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The numbers: U.S. manufacturers said business improved in December for the eight month in a row and new orders matched a pandemic high, signaling they are weathering the record coronavirus outbreak better than other major industries.

The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose to 60.7% in December from to 57.5% in the prior month, marking the highest level in almost two and a half years.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast the index to total 57%. Readings over 50% indicate growth.

What happened: New orders, production and employment all rose in December.

Sixteen of the 18 industries tracked by ISM expanded in December, unchanged from the prior month.

The ISM index is compiled from a survey of executives who order raw materials and other supplies for their companies. The gauge tends to rise or fall in tandem with the health of the economy.

Big picture: The economy is expected to make a stronger recovery later in the year if the vaccines prove effective and become more widespread, but the next few months could be rocky.

Manufacturers are likely to outperform other key segments of the economy, but they can’t fully return to normal until the rest of the country does.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.09%

and S&P 500
SPX,
+0.25%

rose slightly in Tuesday trades.

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