US manufacturing sector expands

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Washington, April 2 (IANS) The US manufacturing sector continued to expand in March but its growth pace slowed, a leading industry survey shows.

The US Institute of Supply Management (ISM) said Monday the manufacturing index, also known as the purchasing managers index (PMI), edged down from the revised reading of 54.2 percent in February to 51.3 in March, reported Xinhua.

A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing sector is generally

expanding, while a reading below 50 percent indicates contraction.

The new orders index decreased to 51.4 percent last month from 57.8 in February. The production index stood at 52.2 percent in March, a decrease from 57.6 percent in February.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 14 reported growth last month including electrical equipment and transportation equipment. Three industries reported contraction including machinery, said the ISM.

Manufacturing has been a bright spot in output and employment since the recession ended in June 2009. But the sector has shown signs of fluctuation in recent months.

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