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US manufacturing sector expands much more than expected in November

The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded at its fastest pace in 2½ years last month, an industry report showed on Monday, while the pace of hiring in the sector also accelerated.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity rose to 57.3 in November—its best showing since April 2011—from 56.4 the prior month.

November was the sixth-consecutive month of quicker growth in the goods-producing sector since a contraction in May, with growth accelerating after the partial government shutdown that limited activity in October. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The forward-looking new orders index jumped to its highest level since April 2011, rising to 63.6 from 60.6. The employment index rose to 56.5 from 53.2 to reach the highest level for the subindex since April 2012. Production rose to 62.8 from 60.8.

The latest ISM report mirrored a separate index released on Monday by financial data firm Markit that showed manufacturing rebounding to a 10-month high in November.

The two surveys use some different methodologies, including one related to seasonal adjustment.

(Read more: Manufacturing growth rebounds in November to 10-month high: Markit)

Also Monday, a third report showed modest economic growth in the fall.

October construction spending increased 0.8 percent to an annual rate of $908.4 billion, the highest level since May 2009, the Commerce Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.4 percent.

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Construction spending fell 0.3 percent in September. The release of the September report was delayed by a 16-day partial shutdown of the government in October.

Construction spending in August was revised to show a 0.1 percent rise instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent increase.

The October construction spending was buoyed by a 3.9 percent jump in public construction projects, the largest increase since March 2004, after a 1.9 percent fall in September.

Public construction spending was boosted by a 3.2 percent increase in state and local government outlays, the biggest advance since February 2009, suggesting a major improvement in finances after years of belt-tightening.

A 10.9 percent surge in spending on federal government projects also supported public construction spending in October.

The increase in spending on federal construction projects was the largest since January 2011.

Spending on private construction projects fell 0.5 percent, pulled down by declines in both residential and nonresidential outlays.

That could be a sign that high interest rates were starting to have an impact on the economy, which bodes ill for investment in both residential and nonresidential structures in the fourth quarter.

By Reuters.

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