U.S. manufacturing grew last month, rising 1 percent over the previous month's level as the rest of the economy gained steam, according to the March purchasing managers index (PMI) of the Institute for Supply Management.

The PMI registered 53.4 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from February's 52.4 percent, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector, Bradley J. Holcomb, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee, said Monday in a statement.

It's worth noting that at this time a year ago, the ISM was running near 60 (59.7 in March 2011). The forward momentum in manufacturing is ... more subdued at this point, a report by Morgan Stanley on the ISM statistics said Monday. However, the overall ISM report was stronger than the 53 expected by a survey of economists.

A PMI over 50 represents growth in the manufacturing sector compared to the month before, while a reading below 50 represents a contraction.

Out of 18 manufacturing industries measured by the index, 15 reported growth, while only two, computer and electronic products and chemical products, reported contraction.

The (U.S.) manufacturing sector appears to be showing some resilience in the face of slowing global demand, the Morgan Stanley report said, noting that supply chain disruptions caused by last year's flooding in Thailand may be resolving themselves.

Manufacturing increased for the 32nd consecutive month while the overall economy grew for the 34th consecutive month, the ISM report said.