U.S. manufacturing expanded at a faster rate in November and the overall economy grew for the 30th consecutive month, according to a closely watched index released Thursday.
However, the stock market did not react much to the stronger-than-expected numbers as Wednesday's powerful rally, the best gains since August led by the world's major central banks' joint action to provide cheaper dollar funding in emergencies, capped gains for investors.
The activity in the manufacturing sector registered 52.7 percent, an increase of 1.9 percentage points from October's reading of 50.8 percent, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 28th consecutive month, according to a report released by the Institute for Supply Management. Economists were expecting growth, but not so much. The consensus points to a reading of 51.0.
A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding.
A notable acceleration in the pace of new orders helped push the manufacturing sector higher. New orders registered at 56.7 percent, up from 52.4 percent in October, reflecting the second month of growth after three months of contraction.
Employment in the manufacturing sector grew, but at a slower rate. The report also showed that the manufacturing employment index declined to 51.8 percent, which is 1.7 percentage points lower than the seasonally adjusted 53.5 percent reported in October. A reading above 50.1 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on manufacturing employment.
The Production index registered 56.6 percent, up from the October reading of 50.1 percent. Wood products, petroleum and coal products, and primary metals are the three highest industries reporting monthly production growth.
Inventory contracted in November, registering at 45 percent, down 2.5 percentage points from the 47.5 percent logged last month. Industries such as nonmetallic mineral products, miscellaneous manufacturing and electrical equipment saw the steepest declines.
According to the Commerce Department, manufacturing accounts for 11 percent of U.S. GDP and 9 percent of total U.S. employment, as well as the majority of U.S. exports.
When manufacturing is doing well, it's usually an indication that consumers are renewing their confidence in the overall economy.