WASHINGTON (AP) — US factory activity expanded last month at the fastest pace in 2 ½ years, an encouraging sign that manufacturing could lift economic growth and hiring in the coming months.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, says its manufacturing index rose in September to 56.2, the highest since April 2011. That's up from 55.7 in August and fourth straight increase in the index. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Manufacturers added jobs last month at the fastest pace in more than a year. A measure of output rose in September. And new orders grew at a healthy pace, though slower than in August.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.