- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 1, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing grew last month at the fastest pace in nearly a year. New orders, production and a measure of employment all rose.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, says its index of manufacturing activity increased to 54.8 in April. That’s the highest level since June and up from 53.4 the previous month. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.

The positive report helped the stock market turn positive.

A measure of employment rose to a nine-month high, an indication that factories are still hiring at a healthy clip. That’s a good sign ahead of Friday’s April jobs report.

The data came after several reports suggested the manufacturing sector and the economy overall could be slowing.

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