US mid-Atlantic factory growth rockets to highest since 1984

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Growth in the US mid-Atlantic factory sector surged to the highest rate in more than three decades, underscoring the brightening outlook for the world’s biggest developed economy.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index soared to 43.3 this month from 23.6 in in January — marking the highest reading since 1984, according to Bloomberg data. Wall Street expected a fall to 18, which would still have been above the 0-line that separates expansion from contraction.

The gauge tends to be a volatile indicator so economists typically suggest not reading too deeply into a single report. But looking at the broader trend shows that the sector expanded for the seventh-straight month in February, rebounding from a rocky start to last year.

New orders and shipments both increased markedly, the data showed. Inventories did, however, slip into contraction territory — potentially an indicator about worries over the future outlook.

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