By John S. McClenahen The latest U.S. manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) continued to show strong activity in July. The group's PMI index rose nine-tenths of a percentage point to 62% last month, right in line with most economists' expectations. "The manufacturing sector continues to grow at a rapid rate, as the PMI has now been above 60% for nine consecutive months," states Norbert J. Ore, chair of ISM's manufacturing business survey committee and group director for strategic sourcing and procurement at Georgia-Pacific Corp. "The growth of new orders and production accelerated during the month, adding strength to the index," he notes. "The employment component . . . dipped to 57.3, a four-month low," notes UBS Investment Research, New York. Nevertheless, the index level "remains well into territory consistent with growing factory payrolls," says UBS, and it expects the Labor Department to report on Aug. 6 that the U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs during July.