Manufacturing growth increased for April, according to an Institute for Supply Management report released today. 

After March's index came in at 53.7%, April's index edged up 1.2 percentage points to reach 54.9%. Based on surveys of purchasing managers, a reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding, while below 50% indicates that it is generally contracting.

Market analysts had expected a rise, but their 54.3% estimate proved overly conservative. 

On a component-by-component basis, April's index looks even better. New orders maintained strong growth at 55.1%, while employment jumped 3.6 percentage points to 54.7%. While the production component fell 0.2 points, its reading remained robust at 55.7%. 

Those surveyed were generally positive, with concerns revolving primarily around international economic and political issues.

A full 17 of the 18 reporting manufacturing industries reported growth, with apparel, leather, and allied products leading the improvement. Meanwhile, nonmetallic mineral products was the only industry to report a contraction.