Stocks and other risky assets rallied Monday after a widely followed U.S. manufacturing index suggested activity in that industrial sector further strengthened in March.

The Institute for Supply Management's montly purchasing manager's index rose to 53.4 in March from 52.4 in February, exceeding economists' consensus forecast of 53, according to Reuters. That positive development indicates hiring, ordering and prices in the manufacturing sector are improving at a faster clip than in recent months.

The news sent stocks soaring globally, with shares of U.S. companies reaching highs last seen nearly four years ago.

Sam Wardwell, an investment strategist at Pioneer Investments, told Reuters that the ISM report confirms employment data that more people are going back to work.

Here's a look at how the markets fared:

Stocks. Asian stocks saw moderate gains after positive reports on the Chinese economy suggested the slowdown in that nation's growth is occurring at a moderate pace. European stocks spiked into positive territory later in the day, following the robust U.S. manufacturing index reading. U.S. stocks rallied to highs last seen in May of 2008. The broader S&P 500 Index closed at 1,418.84, up 0.74 percent.

Bonds.  U.S. Treasuries were caught up in the rally as money flowed into American assets. The benchmark 10-year note was particularly strong, with yields dropping to nearly five basis points to near 2.16 percent, before settling at 2.195 percent.

Commodities. Physical assets gathered strong investor demand on an improving view of the economy. Oil futures rose $2.16 to $105.18 per barrel of crude in New York trading. Natural gas instruments, after briefly dipping early in the day, also rose. All major agricultural and metals commodities, with the exception of sugar and wheat, ended the day in positive territory.

Currencies. The dollar had a weak day, with futures indexed to the U.S. dollar losing 0.14 percent. The dollar retreated against all major Asian currencies. The euro, however, was weaker, falling to $1.3324. The Swiss franc also fell against the dollar.