The overall economy grew for the 23rd straight month, while the manufacturing sector expanded for the 21st time, the Institute for Supply Management reported Monday.

According to the institutes monthly report on business, the ISM index dipped to 60.4 in April from 61.2 in March.

Economists predicted the index would slip to 59.9.

An index reading below 50 signals a slowing economy, while a level above 50 suggests expansion.

A reading of 50 indicates the sector was unchanged in the month.

“The recent trend of rapid growth in the manufacturing sector continued in April as the PMI registered above 60% for the fourth consecutive month,” said Norbert Ore, chairman of the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing business survey committee.

The closely watched prices-paid index grew to 85.5 from 85.0. The employment index was at 62.7, down from 63.0 in March.

The production index decreased to 63.8 from 69.0 and the new orders index fell to 61.7 from 63.3, while the supplier deliveries index dipped to 60.2 from 63.1. The export orders index increased to 62.0 from 56.0 and the imports index fell to 55.5 from 56.5.

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