U.S. manufacturing executives said business picked up slightly in March and most expect an improving economy to bolster demand in the spring, according to a survey, MarketWatch reported.


The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index edged up 53.7 percent last month from 53.2 percent in February. Any reading over 50 signals that more companies are growing instead of contracting and the latest report was largely in line with Wall Street expectations.


Though the increase in the index was small, the details of the report suggest gathering momentum for U.S. manufacturers and perhaps the U.S. economy as a whole. Fourteen of the 18 industries tracked by the ISM said their companies posted growth in March and almost every respondent said either their business or the economy is getting better.


Warmer weather helped companies ramp up production after a stormy winter disrupted operations in January and February. The ISM production index jumped 7.7 points to nearly 56 percent to mark the highest level since December.

New orders edged up to 55 percent from 54.5 percent.


The employment index dropped to 51 percent from slightly more than 52 percent in February.