U.S. Factory Activity Gained Momentum in December

The U.S. factory sector gained momentum in December, with sales and production rising quickly, suggesting underlying strength in the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said Wednesday its closely watched purchasing managers index rose to 59.7 in December from 58.2 the prior month, hitting the highest level since September. A reading above 50 indicates activity -- as measured by factors like sales, production and prices -- is expanding across the factory sector. A number below 50 signals contraction.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a reading of 58 for December.

Measures of production and sales picked up, while employment growth slowed a bit.

Write to Josh Mitchell at joshua.mitchell@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 03, 2018 10:32 ET (15:32 GMT)