at factories will probably dip during October after registering a five-year high last month, analysts said.

The purchasing managers' index is expected to fall to 56.2 for October, from 57.8 in September, according to the average of 23 forecasts in a survey Thursday.

Even with a decline, an index reading of 50 or more suggests manufacturing is expanding. Exports, for example, have bounded back from the slowdown of 1998, analysts said.

"Factory orders and shipments have remained quite strong in recent months," according to a forecast by David Greenlaw, an economist at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in New York.

In the household sector, Whirlpool Corp., the world's largest maker of appliances, reported third-quarter profits rose 37%, beating expectations on stronger sales in North America and Europe.

The factory index -- published by the National Association of Purchasing Management -- is scheduled to be issued Monday.

The index has been above 50 since January after declining in December to 45.3, the lowest reading since May 1991, when the U.S. economy was emerging from the last recession.

The improvement in manufacturing has been uneven. Higher prices for industrial commodities, reflecting an economic recovery in Asia, are putting pressure on some manufacturers. -- Bloomberg News

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