NEW YORK, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A preliminary estimate shows a key U.S. manufacturing index rose slightly from July to August, Markit Economics said Thursday.
The research firm's manufacturing index, called the purchasing managers index, rose from 53.7 in July to 53.9 in August. PMI figures above 50 indicate growth, while anything below 50 indicates contraction.
The index released Thursday is considered a flash estimate, based on 85 percent of the data that go into the final report. When the remaining 15 percent of the data become available, the PMI could be revised.
Markit said the new orders index "increased strongly," rising from 55.5 to 56.5. The production index slipped from 54.8 to 53.4, indicating growth had slowed. New export orders came in showing slower growth, with the index dropping from 52.5 to 52.
The index measuring the number of employees rose from 53 to 53.2, indicating slightly faster expansion.
"The U.S. manufacturing sector saw only modest growth of production in August, suggesting that the
economy is continuing to recover in the third quarter but that the pace of expansion remains disappointingly sluggish," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
"Hopefully the faster growth of new orders seen during August will translate into increasingly strong
production gains in coming months, and also boost hiring. Job creation was the strongest for four months in August, but the sector is still barely contributing to non-farm payroll growth," he said.