November factory activity quickens, Sandy a factor: Markit

NEW YORK, Mon Dec 3, 2012 — Rising demand from domestic and foreign customers helped U.S. manufacturing grow in November at its quickest pace in six months, an industry survey showed on Monday, though hiring remained sluggish.

Financial information firm Markit said its U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 52.8 last month, rebounding from a more than three-year low of 51.0 in October. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Firms said Hurricane Sandy, which hit in late October, was partly responsible for a jump in domestic new orders, suggesting the pace of growth could slow in the months ahead.

“Manufacturing looks likely to provide only a modest contribution at best to economic growth in the final quarter of the year and, alongside signs of renewed weakness in consumer spending, suggests that U.S. growth will have slowed markedly from the 2.7 percent pace seen in the third quarter,” said Markit chief economist Chris Williamson.

The rate of output growth was the quickest since May and the index’s employment component edged up to 52.6 from 51.8. But the pace of hiring was below the average seen over the last 34 months.