The overall economy grew for the fifty-second straight time, while the manufacturing sector expanded for the fourth consecutive month, the Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday.

According to the ISM's monthly report on business, the ISM index climbed to 56.2 in September from 55.7 in August.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the index would fall to 55.0.

An index reading below 50 signals a slowing economy, while a level above 50 suggests expansion. A reading of 50 shows the sector was unchanged in the month.

The prices paid index increased to 56.5 from 54.0. The employment index gained to 55.4 from 53.3 the prior month.

The production index climbed to 62.6 from 62.4, the new orders index slid to 60.5 from 63.2; the supplier deliveries index grew to 52.6 from 52.3; the export orders index slumped to 52.0 from 55.5; and the imports index fell to 55.0 from 58.0.

The inventories index rose to 50.0 from 47.5; the customers' inventories index crept to 43.0 from 42.5; and backlog of orders gained to 49.5 from 46.5.

Respondents' comments included:

"Global sales generally trending moderately higher." (Textile Mills)

"Slight increase in demand. Forecast looks better. 4Q looking better than 3Q - should begin to see demand increase in October/November." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)

"Raw materials shortages continue. General trends are up, which enhances shortage issues." (Wood Products)

"Overall business is flat to down across the board." (Machinery)

"Housing continues to improve, resulting in improved conditions for our industry." (Furniture & Related Products)

"Rising costs of China labor has us re-evaluating our current position in that country." (Computer & Electronic Products)

"Steady increase in work this month." (Primary Metals)

"Overall business is picking up." (Transportation Equipment)

"Outlook remains strong with housing market and customer orders." (Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components)

"Labor rates along the Gulf Coast are rising with the increased activity of construction and maintenance projects." (Chemical Products)

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