U.S. Upper Midwest factory activity at highest since 2014

A measure of factory activity in the U.S. Upper Midwest rose in March to its strongest level in over two years, marking a fifth straight month of manufacturing growth in the region, a private survey released on Friday showed.

Marquette University and the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee said their seasonally adjusted index on manufacturing in the Milwaukee region climbed to 61.77 in March, the highest since November 2014. It was up from 58.69 in February.

A reading above 50 indicates regional factory activity is expanding.

The survey's component on new orders, a proxy on future activity, rebounded to 65.12 from 62.76 last month, but its production gauge fell to 64.94 from 69.83.

The overall employment index jumped to 66.91 from 52.48 last month. The survey's measure on "blue collar employment" surged to 65.3 from 52.5, while its "white collar employment" gauge increased to 55.4 from 50.2.

The six-month outlook gauge fell to 68.18 from 72.50 in February, while the survey's price barometer retreated to 79.55 from 81.82.

(Reporting by Richard Leong)