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June 01, 2004

What the World Needs Now is Cowbell, Sweet Cowbell

Data show economy roaring at record levels:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. factories cranked up output in May and construction spending surged to a third straight record high in April, according to reports on Tuesday that showed the economy gathering speed.

A measure of factory employment jumped to the highest level in 31 years as the nation's factories marked a full year of recovery, raising hopes for a strong gain in manufacturing jobs in Friday's national payrolls report.

Taken together, the data supported the case for a Federal Reserve rate rise later this month.

However, a third report gave a more subdued view of the job market in May, as the number of planned layoffs rose for the second month in a row.

There's always somethin'.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity rose to 62.8 in May from 62.4 the prior month, beating expectations of a small decline to 62.0. The index was not far off its two-decade high of 63.6 reached in January.

"Manufacturing activity has gone from being the U.S. economy's laggard to one of the driving forces behind the current recovery," said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's Investors Service.

"That big jump by the employment index for the month of May favors another reading on payroll employment which exceeds expectations," he added. The job component rose to 61.9 in May -- the highest since April 1973 -- from 57.8 the prior month.

Markets are awaiting Friday's May payrolls report, which is expected to show an increase of around 216,000 non-farm jobs and seal the case for an official rate rise at the Fed's late June meeting.

Cowbell. Made in the USA.

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posted by Ace at 01:32 PM

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