WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy climbed out of the hole and started moving ahead in May as new orders to manufacturers shot up to their highest level since the start of last summer, according to a report by plant purchasing managers released yesterday.

The report by the National Association of Purchasing Managers added to other signs that the recession is drawing to a close, leaving monetary policy at the Federal Reserve in neutral. "I would think that for the immediate future, the Fed is on hold," said Richard Peach, deputy chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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