WASHINGTON -- The Purchasing Managers' Index for May surpassed many economists' expectations yesterday by surging to its highest level since July 1988.

The index reached 56.3%, up from 51.3% in April, which was the first month to post a decline since December, according to the National Association of Purchasing Management. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing is generally expanding, while a reading below 50% indicates no growth.

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