"Business can be described as flat at best," said one respondent to the monthly Institute of Supply Management survey.
The numbers reflect that statement. With 50 as the dividing line between growth and contraction, the headline Purchasing Managers Index dropped from 51.3 in March to 50.7, just above breaking even.
New orders index in the monthly report came to 52.3, showing slightly faster growth than March, when that index came to 51.4. The production index also rose slightly, climbing from 52.2 to 53.5 in the month.
The closely watched employment index dropped from 54.2 to 50.2, showing marginal gains. The backlog of orders index rose to 53, while the inventories index fell to 46.5.
Despite marginal growth overall, 14 of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in April. The fastest growth was posted by furniture makers, followed by printers and makers of electrical equipment.
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