U.S. manufacturing companies grew in December at the slowest pace since last summer, with many executives saying labor troubles at key West Coast ports are created delays for imported raw materials and other goods. The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell to 55.5% last month from 58.7% in November. That was well below the 57% forecast of economists surveyed by MarketWatch. Readings over 50% indicate more companies are expanding instead of shrinking. The ISM's new-orders index declined 8.7 points to 57.3% and production retreated 5.6 points to 58.8%. Yet the employment gauge rose 1.9 points to 56.8% to mark the highest rate since August.
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