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Economic activity in the manufacturing sector continues to expand, according to the Institute for Supply Management's survey. PMI registered 54.2% for February, which was well ahead of expectations. It was also the highest PMI reading since June 2011.

A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding. February marked the third straight month above the 50% line.

According to the ISM, "As was the case in January, all five of the PMI's component indexes - new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries and inventories - registered in positive territory in February." New Orders were particularly strong. The component index improved to 57.8, up from 53.3 in January. Meanwhile, the Backlog of Orders component improved significantly - from 47.5 to 55.0.

To put this month's report into perspective, below is a 50-year chart from Calculated Risk Blog that shows PMI over the last 50 years. You can see that manufacturing sector has rebounded nicely following last summer's slowdown:

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