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Manufacturing Grew In September, Construction Gained In August

Neither reports signals a sharp turnaround for the sluggish economy, but:

-- The manufacturing sector "expanded in September for the 26th consecutive month," the Institute for Supply Management says. An index it calculates that measures such things as orders, production and employment stood at 51.6 in September vs. 50.6 in August. A reading above 50 is supposed to signal an expanding factory sector. The index has been at 50 or above for those 26 months.

-- Construction spending rose 1.4 percent in August from July, the Census Bureau reports, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $799.1 billion. Spending ws up 0.9 percent from August. 2010. Spending dropped 1.4 percent in July from June, meaning the August gain basically brought things back to where they were.

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