NEW YORK Feb 28 The pace of business activity
in the U.S. Midwest rose to its highest level in nearly a year
in February as new orders increased, a report showed on
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business
barometer rose to 56.8 from 55.6 in January, topping economists'
expectations for 54.3.
It was the highest level since March 2012. A reading above
50 indicates expansion in the regional economy.
The gauge of new orders was also at its highest since last
March, rising to 60.2 from 58.2 but the employment component
fell to 55.7 from 58. Inventories fell to 50.1 from 55.0.
Financial markets reacted little to the data as investors
were taking in an earlier report that showed the U.S. economy
grew only slightly in the fourth quarter.
The Chicago report is one of the last snapshots of regional
manufacturing ahead of a look at the sector on the national
level, due to be released on Friday. That report is expected to
show the pace of growth slowed slightly this month.