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US manufacturing expands at slower pace in April: ISM

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US manufacturing activity rose again in April but at a slower pace than March, as indexes including orders and employment showed declines, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday.

[WASHINGTON] US manufacturing activity rose again in April but at a slower pace than March, as indexes including orders and employment showed declines, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday.

The ISM purchasing managers index fell 2.4 percentage points to 54.8 per cent in April, and while it was the eighth month of expansion with the index above 50, it was the second month showing a pause in the sector.

The key new orders index fell sharply, dropping seven points to 57.6 per cent, while employment fell nearly the same amount, dropping to 52 per cent.

But ISM's survey chief Bradley J. Holcomb noted that ups and downs in the index are normal, and the overall trend in manufacturing remains upward.

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Each month of this year was "higher than any month in 2016," Mr Holcomb told reporters in a conference call. "There are going to be some ups and downs. We can't see them go up, up, up or we'll bump our heads against the ceiling and get overheated." Despite the slower pace, 16 of 18 industries reported growth in the overall index and in the new orders index, while 17 reported growth in production.

But in the employment measure, only 12 reported growth.

Even so, Mr Holcomb noted that new orders and employment have been on the upswing for several months and "both indexes are in great shape." The price index, something companies have expressed concern about, also slowed from March, falling two percentage points to 68.5 per cent, with 16 industries reporting higher prices.

AFP

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