U.S. manufacturing rose once again in July and is now the strongest it has been in 18 months.
The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) monthly manufacturing index hit 54.2 percent for the month, the highest reading since March 2019 and beating out last month by 1.6 percentage points.
A reading above 50 percent indicates growth in manufacturing, which amounts to around 11 percent of the total U.S. economy. New orders rose substantially (up 5.1 percent to 61.5); the backlog of orders increased 6.5 percent to 51.8; and employment increased 2.2 percent to 44.3 - a softer decline.
"The growth cycle continues for the second straight month after three prior months of COVID-19 disruptions," says Timothy R. Fiore, ISM chair. "Demand and consumption continued to drive expansion growth, with inputs remaining at parity with supply and demand."
Just like in June, wood products and furniture led the charge. Following wood products were textile mills; printing, food, beverage and tobacco; and plastic and rubber products.
Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 13 reported growth in July. ISM says three industries saw contractions: Transportation Equipment; Machinery; and Fabricated Metal Products.

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