The overall economy grew for the 79th straight month, while the manufacturing sector remained in contraction for the fourth consecutive month, the Institute for Supply Management reported yesterday.

According to the ISM’s monthly report on business, the ISM index gained to 49.6 in May from 48.6 in April.

Economists polled by IFR Markets predicted the index would slip to 48.5.

The closely watched prices paid index climbed to 87.0 from 84.5. The employment index was at 45.5, up from 45.4 in the prior month.

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