After 5 Months Manufacturing Expands

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After a troubling jobs report American manufacturers will undoubtedly be relieved to hear that their industry had a few bright spots in March. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that its manufacturing index rose to 51.8 in March, up from 49.5 in February. Any reading above 50 signals growth. The report ends a five month streak of declining activity. The improvement suggests that American factories are adapting to economic forces abroad, such as a strong dollar and weakening economies in countries like Japan and China, that have hurt sales domestically. The report also showed that new orders and production improved, but confirmed the jobs report’s finding that manufacturers are cutting jobs.