The U.S. manufacturing sector grew in April at its fastest pace in almost six years and at a rate that was above expectations, according to an industry report released on Monday.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity rose to 60.4 in April from 59.6 in March, The median forecast of 77 economists surveyed by Reuters was for a reading of 60.

The data represents a ninth straight month of gains, with the headline index at its highest since June 2004.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by James Dalgleish)