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(Reuters)

U.S. Manufacturing Growth Slows in December

Politics Reuters

The pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector slowed more than expected in December, according to an industry report released on Friday.

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The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity fell to 55.5 from 58.7 the month before. The reading was shy of expectations of 57.6, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.

The dropoff comes in tandem with a similar slip in Markit's flash purchasing managers' index, and indicates that activity in the factory sector has taken a hit on worries about global demand and a drop in oil prices. The decline dropped the ISM index to its lowest level since June.

The new orders index fell to 57.3 from 66. The prices paid gauge was down dramatically to a reading of 38.5 from 44.5, compared with expectations for a reading of 43.

Employment rebounded modestly, however, rising to 56.8 from 54.9, and ahead of expectations for a 54.7 reading. December's figure marks the 18th consecutive month of expansion in manufacturing employment sentiment. (Reporting By David Gaffen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)