No. of Recommendations: 3

NEW YORK Jan. 2 — The nation's manufacturing sector expanded strongly in December, its most robust month in two decades, in a sign that the economic recovery continues to gain ground. The Institute for Supply Management reported Friday that its manufacturing index jumped to 66.2 from 62.8 in November.

The new figure was the highest since December 1983 for a sector that was one of the hardest hit in the economic downturn. The reading, which marks the sixth consecutive month of expansion in manufacturing, was significantly higher than the 61 forecast by analysts.

In a related story, Treasuries are down sharply on the news.

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