March 1, 2012 at 10:10 AM ET
NEW YORK — The pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector unexpectedly slowed in February, according to an industry report released on Thursday.
The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity fell to 52.4 from 54.1 the month before. The reading was shy of expectations of 54.5, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
The unexpected slowing broke three straight months of quickening growth in the sector.
A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector, while a number above 50 means expansion.
New orders fell to 54.9 from 57.6. Prices paid was up at 61.5 from 55.5.
Reuters contributed to this report.