Research firm Markit Economics reported that the final U.S. purchasing manager's index (PMI) rose from 52.8 in November to 54 in December, the highest index reading in seven months. The final reading was somewhat lower than the flash reading of 54.2 taken earlier in the month. Readings above 50 indicate expansion relative to the previous month, while readings below 50 indicate contraction.
The output, new orders, new export orders, employment and backlog subindexes were all expanding in December, and at a faster rate than in November. The growth in new orders was the fastest since April 2012, and the new export orders growth was the strongest since March.
The employment index of 54.5 (up from 52.6 in November) is the strongest in eight months. Markit's chief economist said:
Firms are also taking on more staff, suggesting that the underlying improvement in demand pushed any worries about the 'fiscal cliff' to backs of manufacturers' minds in the closing weeks of the year.
The research firm also noted that key indicators of growth in other national economies suggest that U.S. firms "should benefit from stronger demand [for] exports in early 2013." The trick will be to keep that demand growing throughout the year.
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