Economy-Manufacturing

FILE - In this June 24, 2019, file photo machines work on a Ford vehicle assembly line at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant in Chicago. American factories expanded at a faster pace last month, continuing a rebound from the coronavirus recession. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, that its manufacturing index climbed to 56 in August from 54.2 in July. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — American factories grew in December at the fastest pace in more than two years as manufacturing continued to weather the pandemic better than the battered services sector.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that its gauge of manufacturing activity rose to 60.7% last month, the highest reading since it stood at 60.8 in August 2018. The gauge was up 3.2 percentage points from a November level of 57.5.

Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.

The US economy collapsed from April through June but since that time manufacturing has posted solid gains, while the services sector, which includes restaurants, bars and the travel industry, has been harder hit.

General Motors reported Tuesday that sales jumped 5% in the final quarter of 2020, its best fourth-quarter performance in retail sales since 2007 with deliveries up 12%. Toyota, which has US plants in Georgetown, Ky., Blue Springs, Miss., San Antonio, Texas, and elsewhere, said sales spiked 20% in December. While manufacturing has recovered since spring, it continues to face virus-related headwinds.

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