The pace of business activity in the U.S. Midwest picked up in January from a more than three-year low the month before as new orders jumped, a report showed on Thursday.
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer rose to its highest since April 2012 at 55.6 from 50.0 in December, easily topping economists' forecasts for 50.5.
December's revised reading had been the lowest since September 2009. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the regional economy.
The gauge of new orders gained to 58.2 from 50.4, while the employment component climbed to 58.0 from 46.8. The measures were at their highest since March and June, respectively.
The figures are one of the last looks at regional manufacturing ahead of Friday's national report from the Institute for Supply Management, which is expected to show the sector expanded in January, but only barely.
The Chicago report was stronger than data released earlier in the month on manufacturing in New York state and the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, both of which showed contraction.
Financial markets showed little reaction to the report, with U.S. stocks up slightly in early morning trading.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.