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Business picked up at local factories during August

Local factories are on a roll.

Business picked up at Buffalo Niagara manufacturers during August, with increased production and a growing flow of new orders fueling much of the expansion, according to a new survey of local purchasing managers.

"Growth in Buffalo-area manufacturing activity continued to be strong in August," said Randall Cragun, the Niagara University economist who compiles the monthly report on local manufacturing activity for the Institute of Supply Management – Buffalo.

The group’s business activity index rebounded from a July slowdown to rise to 73.1 during August, up from a four-month low of 68.3 in July.  The index, which can swing wildly from month to month, had reached a 20-year high in October, only to see the pace of growth slow during each of the following two months before rebounding in January and remaining at generally robust levels throughout 2018.

An index above 50 indicates growth at local factories, while a reading below that is a sign of weakness. The local index has been above 50, indicating factory growth, for 18 straight months.

The strength was broadly based. Production and new orders also were strong, though the pace of production growth was slower than the torrid growth the survey found during most of the first half of this year. The pace of hiring fell to a 12-month low but still indicated that companies have been adding workers for 24 consecutive months. Commodity prices rose rapidly, while inventories rose for the sixth straight month.

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