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U.S. manufacturing index shows July slowdown

August 3, 2015

U.S. factories were a little less busy last month.

The Institute of Purchasing Managers' manufacturing index slipped to 52.7 last month from 53.5 in June. Economists had expected the index to remain unchanged. Any reading above 50 indicates growth.

The index had risen in May and June before slipping last month.

Exports are contracting, partly because a strong dollar makes U.S. goods more expensive. Hiring slowed at U.S. factories last month, but production and new orders rose.

"The manufacturing sector will probably continue to struggle as the dollar has appreciated further recently and overseas demand has remained muted," Adam Collins, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research report. "However, activity in other, larger parts of the economy has remained strong."

The Commerce Department reported last Monday that orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket goods rose sharply in June, though the gain was driven by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft — a volatile category.

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