The overall economy grew for the tenth straight time while the manufacturing sector expanded for the seventh time, the Institute for Supply Management reported yesterday. The ISM index dipped to 56.5 in February from 58.4 in January.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the index would fall to 57.5.

An index reading below 50 is an indication of a slowing economy, while a level above 50 suggests expansion. A reading of 50 shows the sector was unchanged in the month.

The closely watched prices paid index slid to 67.0 from 70.0. The employment index was at 56.1, up from 53.3.

The production index decreased to 58.4 from 66.2, the new orders index fell to 59.5 from 65.9, and  the supplier deliveries index climbed to 61.1 from 60.1.

The export orders index decreased to 56.5 from 58.5 and the imports index fell to 56.0 from 56.5. The inventories index increased to 47.3 from 46.5, the customers’ inventories index rose to 37.0 from 32.0, and backlog of orders rose to 61.0 from 56.0.

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