Manufacturers in the United States, Europe and Asia increased output at the end of 2020, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

Why it’s happening: A jump in global trade and a surge in new orders has helped the manufacturing industry stay strong in the face of ongoing challenges. The industry also stands in contrast to service-sector businesses that rely on face-to-face interactions or require workers to be in close proximity.  Economists expect manufacturing’s strength to continue and to keep outperforming service-sector businesses until there is widespread immunity against the COVID-19 virus.

The data: “Data firm IHS Markit said its purchasing managers index for the U.S. manufacturing sector rose to 57.1 in December from 56.7 in November. That was the biggest improvement since September 2014, IHS Markit said. A reading above 50 points to an increase in activity from the previous month, while a reading below that level points to a decline.”