U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated in February at its fastest pace in nearly four years due in part to growth in new orders, an industry report showed on Thursday.

Financial data firm Markit said its "flash" or preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 56.7 in February, its highest since May 2010, compared to 53.7 in the final reading for January. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.

The new orders component jumped to 58.8, the highest since May 2010, while output rose to 57.2 from 53.5 in January.

"The flash manufacturing PMI provides the first indications that production has rebounded from the weather-related slowdown seen in January," Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit said in a statement.

"Further growth looks likely in coming months, suggesting the underlying health of the economy remains robust."

Markit's flash reading is based on replies from about 85 percent of the U.S. manufacturers surveyed.