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Purchasing managers say manufacturing holding its own

Tempe, Arizona -- The U.S. manufacturing sector remained stuck in neutral during August, as a key gauge of activity dipped slightly, and the rate of manufacturing growth slowed after perking up somewhat in July.

A monthly barometer of smoke-stack America compiled by the nation's purchasing managers declined slightly, to a reading of 54.5 from 54.7 the month before, but managed to come in ahead of expectations, beating a consensus forecast of an even deeper drop, to a reading of 53.5.

"The major concerns in manufacturing at this point are the continued upward pricing pressure that has existed for the past 13 months, and some industries are experiencing a degree of inventory buildup," said Norbert Ore, chairman of the Manufacturing Business Survey Committee of the Institute for Supply Management.

The Key Prices Index subsided in August to a level of 73.0 from 78.5 the month before. Any reading over the benchmark level of 50 indicates growth, while anything beneath a level of 50 indicates contraction.

A measure of customers' inventories increased by 1.5%, to a level of 46.0 from 44.5. The New Orders Index slipped by 1.9% to a reading of 54.2, and the Production Index cooled by 1.0% to 56.6 from 57.6 in July.

Providing some relief, the Employment Index climbed by 3.3%, to 54.0% from 50.7%. In more good news, the Exports Index jumped up by 3.8% to

55.7 from 51.9, while the rate of imports growth slowed by 3.5% to a level of 54.0 from 57.5.

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