01/03/2017 05:11 EST | Updated 01/04/2018 00:12 EST

US factory activity hits 2016 high in December

WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing activity expanded for the fourth straight month in December, as new orders and production jumped in a positive sign for economic growth.

The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index came in at 54.7 last month, up from 53.2 in November and the highest reading of 2016. Anything over 50 signals growth.

U.S. factories are steadily rebounding from a rough patch hit in late 2015 and early 2016. The decline in energy prices caused cutbacks in orders for equipment and pipelines, while a stronger dollar and slower economic growth abroad hurt exports.

The ISM manufacturing index has topped 50 for nine of the last 10 months.