The overall economy grew for the ninety-fifth straight time, the Institute for Supply Management reported Monday.

According to the ISM's monthly report on business, the ISM index decreased to 54.8 in April from 57.2 in March.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the index would be 56.5.

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

The prices paid index fell to 68.5 from 70.5. The employment index slid to 52.0 from 58.9.

The production index gained to 58.6 from 57.6, the new orders index declined to 57.5 from 64.5; the supplier deliveries index dipped to 55.1 from 55.9; the export orders index increased to 59.5 from 59.0; and the imports index rose to 55.5 from 53.5.

The inventories index climbed to 51.0 from 49.0; the customers' inventories index slid to 45.5 from 47.0; and backlog of orders decreased to 57.0 from 57.5.

Respondents' comments included:

  • "For [the] first time in a long time, revenue was up in Q1 year-over-year. Our customers' businesses are starting to show sustained health." (Apparel, Leather & Allied Products)
  • "Seeing increased orders and new projects." (Chemical Products)
  • "Bookings are slow; however, we did receive a very large government order." (Computer & Electronic Products)
  • "Business is definitely improving. Profit margins are increasing." (Fabricated Metal Products)
  • "Ongoing market strength. While world/political headlines cause personal anxiety, business conditions remain solid." (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)
  • "The poultry market continues to be stronger than anticipated." (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)
  • "Continuing to source more raw materials locally and reduce exposure outside U.S." (Machinery)
  • "Military and government spending is remaining strong. Commercial business has been flat to slightly down." (Transportation Equipment)
  • "Our business and outlook are [strong]. We are seeing price increases from suppliers in many categories." (Plastics & Rubber Products)
  • "Business is solid. Pricing pressures on commodities." (Furniture & Related Products)

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