chart upClick image to enlargeWhile uncertainty about the North American economy continues to linger, RBC's Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI) indicates that growth will continue in Canada at a steady, albeit slower, pace.

The RBC Canadian Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI), a measure of manufacturing business conditions, was at a seasonally adjusted 55.3 last month. A reading above 50 shows growth in the sector, according to a Reuters report.

New export orders rose to 54.5, the highest reading for the forward-looking metric since September 2013, from 51.3 in October.

"New export orders recorded a strong jump in the month, pointing to continued support from a stronger U.S. economy and a more competitive Canadian dollar," Craig Wright, RBC's chief economist, said in a statement.

The Bank of Canada is eager to see an uptick in exports, which it said in late October could be bolstered by U.S. economic recovery.

US manufacturing active slows slightly, but stiil hits a four-year high

South of the borther, The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index declined slightly to 58.7 in November 2014 from 59.0 in October. While there was a decline market expectations had been for a greater decrease.

"Modest deterioration in the headline ISM index reflected decreases in three of the five main subcomponents of the measure," notes Laura Cooper, an economist with RBC Economics, commenting about the ISM figures in a December 1 press release. "The gauge of current production eased by 0.4 points to 64.4, although it remained elevated after recording a more than 10-year high of 64.8 in the previous month. The "employment" component also fell in November, down by 0.6 points to 54.9, while the "inventory change" component decreased by 1.0 points to 51.5. On a positive note, the new orders component edged upward by 0.2 points to a three-month high of 66.0. The "supplier deliveries" index rose to 56.8 from 56.2 in October to indicate that shipments from suppliers were slower than the previous month (delivery times tend to lengthen as suppliers face greater capacity constraints)."

Despite the decline in November, the ISM manufacturing index was still at nearly a four-year high of 59.0, marking the 18th consecutive month of expansion in manufacturing activity.

"While the slower expected pace of hiring was disappointing, the spread between the "new orders" and "inventory change" components (considered to be a key indicator of future activity) rose to a three-month high of 14.5 in November to build on a 4.8 point jump to 13.3 in the previous month." notes RBC Economics' Cooper. "This positive development along with the overall upbeat comments from the survey respondents included in the report bode well for ongoing momentum in the factory sector to persist. This is consistent with our view that overall economic activity will continue to expand at a pace that is above its longer-run average rate in the final quarter of 2014."

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