According to The Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers index, manufacturing climbed to 55.9% in December from 53.6% in November, representing its strongest pace of activity since April 2006 and the fifth consecutive month of expansion.
"The U.S. manufacturing sector concluded 2009 on something of a high note," said Cliff Waldman, economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "New orders and production growth both strengthened impressively. Disappointingly however, the backlog of orders, an indicator of the short-term demands on production, grew at a slower rate and now sits right at 50%, the dividing line between growth and contraction."
Waldman noted that these numbers highlight "persistent concerns about the durability of the manufacturing recovery." He added, "The U.S. factory sector has clearly ended its deep slump and is unlikely to fall back into contraction. But there are demand difficulties in the business and household sectors resulting from high unemployment, excess capacity, an uneven global recovery, and shaky consumer and business confidence."