US factories grew in December at fastest pace since mid-2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — American factories grew in December at the fastest pace in more than two years as manufacturing continued to fare better during the pandemic 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 activity 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 U.S. economy collapsed from April through June but since that time manufacturing has posted solid gains.