The ISM’s gauge of employment climbed in September to 55.4, the highest since June 2012, from 53.3, while an index of production increased to 62.6 from 62.4. The group’s new orders measure declined to 60.5 last month from 63.2. The index of orders waiting to be filled increased to 49.5 from 46.5.
The report also showed gauges of factory inventories and customer stockpiles rose in September.
Sustained gains in motor vehicle sales have been a source of strength for the nation’s factories. Car and light truck sales rose to a 16 million annualized pace in August, the fastest since November 2007, according to Ward’s Automotive Group.
Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, and Chrysler Group LLC overcame a quirk in the industry sales calendar to post surprise U.S. gains for September.
Ford said sales of its cars and light trucks rose 5.7% to 184,452 and Chrysler deliveries climbed 0.7% to 143,017. The companies exceeded analysts’ average estimates for little change in Ford sales and a 2.8% decline for Fiat SpA-controlled Chrysler in a survey by Bloomberg.
The recovery in housing is spurring also demand for construction materials, furniture and appliances. Outlays for construction of single-family dwellings increased in July to the highest level since 2008.
A pickup in domestic energy production has also benefitted companies such as Praxair Inc., a Danbury, Connecticut-based producer of gases and metallic and ceramic coating and powders.
“The energy infrastructure build out due to shale gas tight oil formation, especially in the Dakotas, Texas are driving demand for tanks, trailers and associated equipment,” Vice President John M. Panikar said in a Sept. 16 conference call. Future construction of petroleum-chemical “projects in Texas and Louisiana will be strong drivers for us and we look forward to seeing those come to fruition.”