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Manufacturing activity expanded in November for the 18th straight month, a research group reported Wednesday, and the rate of growth was faster than economists had been expecting.

The Institute for Supply Management said that its main index for measuring industrial activity rose to 57.8 in November, a full point above the level of 56.8 in October. Analysts had been expecting a reading of 57.

A reading of 50 or above in the index means the manufacturing sector is expanding, while a figure below 50 represents a contraction. The index has been above 50 since June of last year.

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