The pace of U.S. manufacturing growth held at its slowest in almost two years in April, as a rebound in new orders was offset by employment shrinking to its lowest level in more than five years, 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 was 51.5 in April, matching the March reading, which had been the lowest since May 2013. The reading fell shy of expectations of 52.0, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. This was the 29th-consecutive headline reading at or above 50.
The employment index fell into contractionary territory for the first time since May 2013, dropping to 48.3, the lowest reading since September 2009. In March, the employment sub-index came in at 50.0.
On the upside, the new orders index rose to 53.5 from 51.8 in March, while the prices paid index rose to 40.5 from 39, returning above 40 after four straight months below that level.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)