US factory activity growth slows for second month: Markit

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Growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector slowed for a second straight month during May, with new orders increasing at their slowest pace since January 2014, according to an industry report released on Thursday.

Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 53.8 in May from the final April reading of 54.1. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the May figure would be 54.5.

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A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector, whose jobs growth picked up in May from April, Markit said.

The index's flash output component fell to 55 from the final April reading of 55.3. The May flash output level was the lowest since December 2014, according to Markit data.

The flash reading of the index measuring new orders also weakened in May to 54.2 from April's final 55.3.

"The weaker order book trend doesn't appear to have affected hiring, at least not yet, with job creation picking up in May. However, unless production growth revives there is a worry that payroll growth will slow as companies seek to boost productivity," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist.