NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Manufacturing in the U.S. was little changed in November, according to the Institute for Supply Management's latest report.

According to the Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, the Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, registered at 56.6%, after rising to 56.9% in October. Consensus expected the index to be little changed at 56.5%, according to Briefing.com. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Still, manufacturing activity has expanded for 16 consecutive months, leading the U.S. economy out of the recession.

New orders and production grew at a slower pace, while the backlog of orders was unchanged. A healthy backlog of orders is necessary for sustainable growth in manufacturing. The index of employment also edged lower to 57.7%. Customer inventories remained "too low" at 45.5%.

"With the PMI at 56.6%, November's rate of growth is the second fastest in the last six months," the report noted. "Manufacturing continues to benefit from the recovery in autos, but those industries reliant upon housing continue to struggle."

Stocks were rising Wednesday morning after the ADP reported a better-than-expected growth in private sector employment. Stronger than expected growth in manufacturing in China was also leading industrials and commodity stocks higher.

The SPDR Industrials ETF ( XLI) was gaining 2.2%. United Technologies ( UTX), Caterpillar ( CAT) and Honeywell ( HON) were up 3%, 2.4% and 2.4% respectively.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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