Conditions for the nation's manufacturers improved for the 20th straight month, the Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday. The ISM index rose to 60.8% in January from 58.5% in December. This is the highest level of the factory index since last May. The report was much stronger than expected. The consensus forecast of estimates collected by MarketWatch was for the index to remain steady at 58.5%.
Readings above 50 indicate expansion. Below the headline, the report was also strong. The key employment index improved to 61.7% in January from 58.9% in December. New orders jumped to 67.8% in January from 62% in the prior month. Input prices soared in January. The price index jumped to 81.5 from 72.5 in the prior month.