By Vicki Needham, The Hill–
U.S. manufacturing expanded in March for the the seventh straight month, although at a slower pace than in February, a new survey shows.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said Monday that their latest index fell slightly to 57.2 last month from 57.7 the previous month, which was the highest level in more than two years.
Any reading above 50 is a sign of growth.
New orders and production continued to expand, but more slowly, in March, while hiring and new export orders grew faster, ISM reported.
New orders were at 64.5 in March, a drop from 65.1 in February, while production posted a 57.6 in March down from 62.9 in February.
Employment hit 58.9 in March, an increase from February’s 54.2 percent — the sixth consecutive month of growth and the highest reading since June 2011.
The new orders index hit 59 in March, up 4 points from February’s 55, the 13th straight month of growth and the best showing since November 2013.
Manufacturing added 28,000 jobs in February, the most in a year and the third straight month of growth in the sector, according to Labor Department figures.
The next government jobs report is set for release on Friday.
Manufacturers are expressing record levels of optimism because of the Trump administration’s plans to cut regulations they argue have weighed on their businesses.
Comments from respondents ranged from “business is strong and looking up” in the furniture industry to “looking relatively flat currently, and the view for calendar year 2017 looks to be flat as well” for transportation equipment firms.