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Based on surveys of purchasing managers, the ISM's April Purchasing Managers Index clocked in at 50.7%, 0.6 percentage point below March's numbers.
Although this marks the fifth straight month of overall expansion, and the 47th consecutive month of economic growth, the ever-important manufacturing rate fell for the second month in a row, to reach a new 2013 low. Analysts had expected a 51% reading for April.
New orders and production components crept up 0.9 points and 1.3 points, respectively, but a whopping four percentage point decrease in employment, to 50.2, stymied any April growth prospects.
At the industry level, "furniture & related products" reported the largest growth, followed by "printing & related support activities," and "electrical equipment, appliances, & components." Three of the 18 industries ("wood products," "food, beverage, & tobacco products," and "chemical products") reported contraction for April.
Among the comments from managers, different industries pointed to sequestration, seasonal pick-up, alternative energy projects, and weather as various reasons for their industries' expansion or contraction.