By AP Business Writer
updated 9/1/2006 10:36:35 AM ET 2006-09-01T14:36:35

The nation’s manufacturing sector expanded in August at a slower clip than in July amid rising commodity prices, a trade group said Friday.

Major Market Indices

The Institute for Supply Management, based in Tempe, Ariz., said its manufacturing index registered 54.5 in August, just below the 54.7 July reading. Analysts expected the index to be flat.

A reading of 50 or more indicates expansion, while below 50 shows contraction. The August figure represented the 39th consecutive month of growth.

The prices paid index fell more than 5 points to 73 in August from 78.5 in the previous month.

The ISM’s new orders index fell to 54.2 in August from 56.1 in July, while the backlog of orders index climbed to 51.5 in August from 50.5 the previous month.

The exports index climbed to 55.7 in August from 51.9 in July, while the imports index fell to 54 from 57.5.

The nine industries that reported growth in August were: electrical equipment, appliances and components; fabricated metal products; miscellaneous manufacturing; chemical products; computer and electronic products; primary metals; food, beverage and tobacco products; furniture and related products; and paper products .

In a separate report, Labor Department data showed hiring picked up in August. Employers added 128,000 jobs, pulling down the unemployment rate to 4.7 percent. The figures were a slightly better than expected.

With the housing market and the overall economy cooling off, the Federal Reserve last month halted a more than two-year long rate raising campaign that was intended to tame inflation. Economists are mixed on what the Fed will do at its next meeting, set for Sept. 20.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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