Resilient motor vehicle sales

While the Institute for Supply Management’s index dropped to 56.6 from 59 in August, the gauge’s average over the past three months was the highest since early 2011, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said today. Readings greater than 50 indicate growth. Other figures showed companies added more than 200,000 workers for a sixth straight month in September, including 35,000 at factories.

Resilient motor vehicle sales, spurred by more employment opportunities, and a pickup in corporate equipment purchases are at the crux of the strongest rate of production in four years. While Europe is stagnating and China is cooling, domestic demand will probably allow U.S. manufacturing to sustain its expansion.

“It’s signaling a fairly good pace of manufacturing growth,” said Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc. in New York, who projected a drop in the index. “With Europe and China slowing and the dollar firming up, down the road we could see some challenges.”

Stocks sank amid signs of economic weakness in Europe. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.7 percent to 1,958.06 at 12:30 p.m. in New York.

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