WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. manufacturing sector rose for the 12th consecutive month in July, but at the slowest pace this year, a leading industry survey showed on Monday.
The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) said that its manufacturing index, also known as the purchasing managers index, stood at 55.5 in July, down from 56.2 in the previous month.
A reading above 50 indicates that the manufacturing is generally expanding, while below 50 suggests the sector is contracting.
July's figure represented the slowest pace of manufacturing expansion this year, since peaking in April at 60.4. And the third consecutive month of decline in expansion further signaled a cooling down in overall economic activities.
U.S. economy grew at a 2.4-percent annual rate in the second quarter of this year, a deceleration from an increase of 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and 5.0 percent in the last three months of 2009, according to the preliminary estimate by the Commerce Department.
Manufacturing has been a flash point since economic recovery began in the second half of last year, as businesses restock their inventories that were depleted during the recession. But this buildup in inventories seemed to have lost momentum in recent months, with its contribution to the GDP growth slumping from 2.6 percentage points in the first quarter to about one percentage point in the second.