updated 12/1/2009 10:27:56 AM ET 2009-12-01T15:27:56

U.S. manufacturing activity grew for the fourth straight month in November, but at a slower pace than in the previous month, signaling a bumpy rebound, a private measure of U.S. manufacturing activity showed Tuesday.

Major Market Indices

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said Tuesday that its manufacturing index read 53.6 in November after 55.7 in October. A reading above 50 indicates growth.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a reading of 55.

But new orders, a signal of future production, jumped to 60.3 from 58.5 in October. The index's employment measure also grew for the second consecutive month after 14 straight declines.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said Tuesday that construction spending edged up October for the first time in six months, as a surge in home building offset weak nonresidential construction. The small gain provided some signs of stability in the key construction sector, which could provide support for the fledgling economic recovery.

Construction spending rose 0.04 percent in October, or $401 million, pushing the seasonally adjusted annual rate to $910.8 billion. That was better than the 0.5 percent decline economists expected, but it followed five straight drops including a 1.6 percent fall in September that was the largest since January.

Image: Graph of manufacturing activity
The overall ISM index, which also includes inventories and prices, first showed growth in August after 18 months of contraction. It is based on a survey of the Tempe, Arizona-based group's members.

"The recovery in manufacturing is continuing, but many are still struggling based on their comments," said Norbert Ore, chair of the survey committee.

In another hopeful sign for a global recovery, measures of manufacturing in the U.K., the eurozone and China also grew in November.

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