Despite continued contraction, America’s manufacturing sector showed some improvement in May, raising hopes of a second-half recovery.

The closely watched index of manufacturing activity from the Institute for Supply Management climbed from 45.4 in April to 49.4, the highest monthly rise since December. Although the overall index remained below the 50.0 threshold between expansion and contraction, order backlogs registered growth for the first time since June 2002, pointing to future expansion.

Norbert Ore, chairman of the ISM survey committee, voiced cautious optimism at the report. “It’s at least a respite that we see,” he commented, adding that the improvement is “in keeping” with a mild rebound in the second half of 2003.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff