By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing grew in August at the strongest pace in more than three years as factories cranked out more goods and new orders rose.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to 59 from 57.1 in July, the ISM said Tuesday. That was the highest reading since March 2011. Any measure above 50 signals that manufacturing is growing.

Tuesday’s ISM report coincides with other signs that manufacturing is helping drive the U.S. economy’s improvement. Factories are benefiting from strong demand for aircraft, furniture, and steel and other metals. The boost from manufacturing has helped offset slower homebuilding, a slowdown in consumer purchases and weaker spending on utilities and other services.

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