Manufacturing activity grew in June, rebounding from an unexpected contraction the prior month, but hiring in the sector was the weakest in nearly four years, an industry report showed on Monday.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity in June rose to 50.9 from 49.0 in May, a touch above of expectations of 50.5. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.
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The gauge for new orders rose to 51.9 from 48.8, while production jumped to 53.4 from 48.6, helping the overall index bounce back from May's contraction - the first in six months.
But a measure of employment fell to 48.7, the lowest reading since September of 2009. It stood at 50.1 in May.
That could feed concern about the strength of the U.S. recovery, particularly now that the Federal Reserve has said it is considering scaling back its massive stimulus program.
Economists polled by Reuters expect the broader U.S. economy to have slowed to 1.7 percent in the second quarter, though most say it should pick up steam in the second half.
The economy grew at a 1.8 percent rate in the first three months of the year, with consumer spending having grown less than initially thought.
(Reporting By Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)