The overall economy grew for the seventh straight time after seven months of contraction, while the manufacturing sector expanded for the fourth time after 18 months of contraction, the Institute for Supply Management reported ­yesterday.

The monthly report on business said the index dipped to 53.6 in November from 55.7 in October. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted a drop to 55.0. 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 manufacturing sector grew for the fourth consecutive month in November,” said Norbert J. Ore, chairman of the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing business survey committee.

“While the rate of growth slowed when compared to October, the signs are still encouraging for continuing growth as both new orders and production are still at very positive levels, and the ­prices index fell 10 points, signaling less ­inflationary pressure on manufacturers’ costs. Overall, the recovery in ­manufacturing is continuing, but many are still struggling based on their ­comments.”

The closely watched prices paid index fell to 55.0 from 65.0. The employment index was at 50.8, down from 53.1 the prior month.

The production index decreased to 59.9 from 63.3, the new orders index rose to 60.3 from 58.5, the supplier deliveries index slipped to 55.7 from 56.9, the export orders index increased to 56.0 from 55.5, and the imports index grew to 51.5 from 51.0.

The inventories index decreased to 41.3 from 46.9, the customers’ inventories index slid to 37.0 from 38.5, and the backlog of orders fell to 52.0 from 53.5.

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