The pace of growth of the US manufacturing sector slowed last month, according to a survey from the Institute for Supply Management.

But economists said the some deceleration in growth was inevitable and that the sector continued to grow briskly.

The headline index slipped 0.5 points to 58.5. This is the weakest reading in almost a year but still suggests the sector is growing at around 5 per cent on an annualised basis.

The main source of weakness in the index was new orders which slid 3 points to 58.1 - still comfortably above the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. The employment component of the index improved to 58.1. This is the best figure since the middle of 1972. However, the reliability of the figure as an indicator of job growth has been questioned by economists in recent months and most believe the figure is consistent with the creation of just 10,000 jobs in the sector over the month.

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