The numbers: The flash reading of the IHS Markit U.S. composite purchasing managers index rose to 58.8 in February from 58.7 in the prior month. Any reading over 50 indicates improving conditions. It is the strongest reading in almost six years.
What happened: The index for services rose to 58.9 in February from 58.3 in the prior month. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal were expecting a 58 reading.
The index for the U.S. manufacturing sector, fell to 58.5 from 59.2. Economists had forecast a 59 reading.
Big picture: The economy is starting to pick up speed as COVID-19 cases are declining and more people are being vaccinated.
What IHS said? “The data add to signs that the economy is enjoying a strong opening quarter to 2021, buoyed by additional stimulus and the partial reopening of the economy as virus related restrictions were eased on average across the country,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
Market reaction: U.S. stocks opened higher on Friday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average
up 64 points in early trading.