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U.S. factory activity at five-month high in March: Markit

Ford Assembly workers install a battery onto the chassis of a Ford Focus Electric vehicle at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector rose to a five-month high in March as output and employment gained, according to an industry report released on Wednesday.

Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 55.7 in March from 55.1 in February and to its highest since October, when the PMI was 55.9. It also came above the preliminary reading of 55.3.

A reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

"The U.S. manufacturing sector is clearly regaining momentum after a slow start to 2015," said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit.

"Job creation has remained resilient in recent months, and falling raw material costs continue to support operating margins."

The index's output component rose to 58.8 last month from 57.3 in February and better than the flash reading of 58.2.

The index measuring employment growth rose in March to 53.8, just over the preliminary 53.7 reading and above the final 52.8 in February.

Input prices fell at the fastest pace since June 2009, Markit data showed.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama; rodrigo.campos@reuters.com; @RodrigoCampos; +1.646.223.6344; Reuters Messaging: rodrigo.campos.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) )