14 March 2002
Hopes for a full economic recovery in the US have been strengthened by the first growth in manufacturing for 18 months, writes Robin Parker.
The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) February manufacturing report on business rose to 54.7, above the 50 mark that indicates no change.
The index was boosted by a huge growth in new orders, from 55.3 to 62.8, mirrored by a similar growth in production.
Non-manufacturing business was at its highest level since November 2000, leaping 9.1 points to 58.7.
It marks a robust recovery after last year's terrorist attacks of 11 September caused activity to temporarily contract.
Norbert Ore, chair of the ISM manufacturing business survey committee, told SM: "There is real substance to the recovery and the impact from low interest rates, low inventories and low energy costs is providing a lot of momentum."
But Ore warned that although a recession appears to have been avoided, the strength of the dollar could still prove problematic.
"We are at a competitive disadvantage globally, and I don't think there is a short-term solution to this."