U.S. Manufacturing Activity Gained in September

A closely watched gauge of U.S. factory activity rebounded in September, a hopeful sign for manufacturers battered by weak business spending and slow economic growth.

The Institute for Supply Management on Monday said its manufacturing index increased to 51.5 in September from 49.4 in August. A reading above 50 indicates that factory activity is growing, while a reading under 50 signals contraction.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a September reading of 49.7.

U.S. companies have been slow to invest in new equipment and structures, especially in the energy industry while commodity prices are low. But the softness has extended to other sectors as well, dragging down overall economic growth.

Write to Jeffrey Sparshott at jeffrey.sparshott@wsj.com