WASHINGTON (AP) -- Manufacturing grew in January at the fastest pace in seven months, boosted by a rise in new orders. The report bolsters other data showing the U.S. economy started the year strong.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, says its manufacturing index rose last month to 54.1 from 53.1 in December. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
Consumers are buying more cars and trucks, while businesses ordered more machinery and other equipment. That has driven factory output.
The sector has expanded for 29 straight months, according to the index.
A measure of hiring dipped, indicating factories are still adding jobs but at a slower pace than in December. Export orders also rose, a sign that U.S. manufacturers haven't yet been affected by Europe's slowing economy.