As new orders grew less quickly than before and managers worried about higher commodity prices, growth in the manufacturing sector slowed in March.
While the sector posted its 20th consecutive month of expansion, new orders, employment, inventories and exports slowed.
The Institute of Supply Management said its Purchasing Managers Index fell to still-strong 61.2% from January's reading of 61.4%.
"An index value above 50 signals that manufacturing activity is growing, but a value of 60 or more is rare," said Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. " In the last 25 years, the monthly PMI index has been 60 or higher only 4%t of the time. Manufacturing is clearly growing at a solid pace led by pent-up demand for consumer durables such as motor vehicles and business equipment, including high-tech.
"Today's report from the U.S. Department of Labor that manufacturing employment increased by 17,000 in March confirms the direction of these early indicators," he added. "Manufacturing activity was robust last month. The reports of widespread price increases across metals and oil-related commodities indicates that not only is U.S. manufacturing activity increasing rapidly but there is strong industrial growth around the world, particularly in the developing countries."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011