February manufacturing strongest since May 2004: ISM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. manufacturing sector grew at its fastest rate since May 2004 in February, while prices paid also rose, according to an industry report released on Tuesday.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity rose to 61.4 in February from 60.8 in January, topping forecasts for 61.0. It was the highest level since May 2004.

A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector, while a number above 50 means expansion.

The prices paid component rose to 82 from 81.5 the month before. Economists had expected a reading of 83.0

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)