WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. factory activity increased more than expected in December, boosted by a surge in new orders growth, in a further sign of strong economic momentum at the end of 2017.

The economy’s robust fundamentals were also underscored by other data on Wednesday showing construction spending rising to a record high in November amid broad gains in both private and public outlays. Given the bullish growth outlook, economists expect the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in March after increasing borrowing costs three times last year.

“Strong manufacturing

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