WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing grew for the first time in four months, buoyed by a jump in new orders. The increase was a hopeful sign the economy is improving.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, says its index of factory activity rose to 51.5. That's up from 49.6 in August.
A reading above 50 signals and below indicates contraction. The index had been below that threshold from June through August.
A measure of employment also increased, suggesting manufacturers added workers last month.
Manufacturing has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy since the recession ended in June 2009. But it had slowed since the spring as consumers and businesses have reined in spending and exports have slowed.