U.S. manufacturing activity increased in March, led by apparel, minerals, metals and petroleum, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday.

It was the thirty-second consecutive month of gains, the institute said. Activity was up about 1 percent from February. New orders, production and employment grew, while inventories were unchanged.

In a separate report, the Midwest showed economic gains in a study by Creighton University in Omaha, notably in exports and new hiring. It was the fifth consecutive monthly increase in the "business conditions index" for a nine-state area that includes Minnesota, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota and Oklahoma.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553