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ISM manufacturing index hits 60.8 in February; construction spending unchanged in January

  • ISM manufacturing activity rises at a faster pace than anticipated.
  • U.S. Construction spending growth was flat in January, underwhelming economists' expectations.
An employee works at Pioneer Pipe in Marietta, Ohio.
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An employee works at Pioneer Pipe in Marietta, Ohio.

A measure of U.S. manufacturing activity increased faster in February, extending a growth streak that stretched into 18 months.

The Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing index jumped to 60.8 in February, up from the 59.1 reading recorded the month before. Economists from Reuters expected manufacturing growth to slip to 58.7 in February.

A reading above 50 for the index indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector, and a reading below 50 signals contraction.

Construction spending

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

U.S. construction spending was unexpectedly flat in January as a surge in investment in public construction projects was offset by a decline in private outlays.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday the virtually unchanged reading in construction spending followed an upwardly revised 0.8 percent jump in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast construction spending increasing 0.3 percent in January after a previously reported 0.7 percent advance in December. Construction spending increased 3.2 percent on a year-on-year basis.

In January, spending on private construction projects fell 0.5 percent after increasing 0.6 percent in December. Outlays on private residential projects rose 0.3 percent after dropping 0.5 percent in December.

Spending on nonresidential structures tumbled 1.5 percent in January, almost reversing December's 1.8 percent jump.

Outlays on public construction projects increased 1.8 percent in January to the highest level since August 2015, after rising by the same margin in December.

Spending on federal government construction projects vaulted 14.9 percent to the highest level since September 2011. State and local government construction outlays rose 0.5 percent to levels last seen in March 2016.

--CNBC's Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.