U.S. Factory-Activity Index Slipped in October

By Ben Leubsdorf Features Dow Jones Newswires

A closely watched gauge of U.S. manufacturing activity pulled back in October after hitting its highest level in 13 years.

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The Institute for Supply Management on Wednesday said its manufacturing index fell to a still-solid 58.7 in October. A reading above 50 indicates activity is expanding across the factory sector, while a number below 50 signals contraction.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected an October reading of 59.0.

The September level of 60.8 was the highest for the index since May 2004.

The overall U.S. economy has expanded at a healthy pace in recent months, bolstered by consumer and business spending.

Gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced across the U.S., expanded at a seasonally and inflation adjusted rate of 3.0% in the third quarter after notching a 3.1% growth rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said. That was the strongest six-month stretch for growth in three years.

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Manufacturing accounts for only about 12% of the nation's economic output, but it is closely watched for signals about the broader economy. The factory sector has gained strength since last year as oil prices stabilized and a pickup in global growth bolstered demand for U.S. exports.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma battered parts of the southern U.S. in late summer, temporarily disrupting some industrial activity including refinery operations along the Gulf Coast. National manufacturing production ticked up 0.1% in September after falling in July and August, according to Federal Reserve data.

Write to Ben Leubsdorf at ben.leubsdorf@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 01, 2017 10:32 ET (14:32 GMT)