New orders in the U.S. manufacturing sector increased for the first time since November 2007, signaling that companies are feeling more confident that the slump in the industrial sector may come to an end this year, according to a report by Bloomberg (www.bloomberg.com)

Bloomberg reports that the Institute for Supply Management’s (www.ism.ws) factory index rose to 42.8 from 40.1 in April. Readings of less than 50 on the Tempe, Arizona-based group’s gauge signal a contraction. The new-orders measure jumped to 51.1 from 47.2.

Economists expected the ISM’s manufacturing index to rise to 42.3, according to the median of 71 projections in a Bloomberg News survey. Estimates ranged from 38 to 45.5.

The ISM’s production index rose to 46, the highest since August, from 40.4 the prior month. The employment index slipped to 34.3 from 34.4. A gauge of export orders rose to 48 from 44.

The index of prices paid jumped to 43.5 from 32. Economists had projected that the measure, which averaged 66.5 last year, would rise to 35.

The supplier delivery gauge, a measure of the time it takes to receive goods, increased to 49.8 from 44.9 the prior month. The measure of orders waiting to be filled rose to 48 from 40.5.

The inventory index fell to 32.9 from 33.6. A figure below 50 means manufacturers are reducing stockpiles.

To read the full report by Bloomberg on this story, click here.

For the May 2009 Manufacturing ISM Report on Business, click here.