Manufacturing expands at solid pace in December

WASHINGTON - U.S. manufacturing grew at a healthy pace in December as factories stepped up hiring and received more orders. The expansion suggests solid growth at the end of the year.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, says its index of manufacturing activity slipped to 57 from 57.3 in November. But that's still the second-highest reading in the past 2 1/2 years. And any reading above 50 signals growth.

A measure of new orders rose to the highest level since April 2010. And a gauge of hiring increased to its highest level since June 2011. Production and a measure of manufacturers' stockpiles fell.

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