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Purchasing managers cheer 4th in a row

In more good news for a sluggish economy that's showing signs of revving up, economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in October for a fourth straight month, the nation's purchasing managers reported, fueled by increases in new orders and production at major American companies.

The widely watched monthly canvass of the nation's purchasing managers, a key barometer of the manufacturing sector, posted a big gain to an October reading of 57.0 up a solid 3.3 percentage points from 53.7 the month before. A reading above the benchmark of 50 percent points to a growing manufacturing sector, while anything beneath that level indicates a slowdown.

"The manufacturing sector enjoyed its fourth consecutive month of growth as new orders continue to lead the recovery," said Norbert J. Ore, chairman of the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "Production made a sharp swing upward during October, signifying growth for the sixth consecutive month."

Buoyed by the news, Ore commented, "This is the best report that we have seen in quite some time in terms of the overall strength of manufacturing. The picture continues to improve, and it appears that manufacturing will finish 2003 on a very positive note, assuming the recent trend continues."

Two key indices both headed higher during October were new orders and production. Production jumped up substantially to a reading of 62.6, up 5.3 percentage points from 57.3 in September. New orders climbed sharply higher as well, to a reading of 64.3, up 3.9 percentage points form 60.4 in September. That marks the sixth straight month new orders have remained above the waterline of 50 percent.

October snapshot
Manufacturing benchmarks
Month-over-month percentage-point change

Source: Institute for Supply Management
Purchasing Managers' Index +3.3%
New Orders 3.9
Production 5.3
Employment 2.0
Inventories 1.8
Customers' Inventories -5.5
Prices Manufacturers Pay 2.5
Order Backlogs 1.0
Export Orders 6.7
Imports -3.4


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