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Real Time Insight

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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These 7 were hand-picked from the list of 220 Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buys with earnings estimate revisions that are sweeping upward. Their stock prices are expected to rise sooner than the others.

Today, this Special Report is available to new Zacks.com visitors free of charge.

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