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Manufacturing Sector Still Growing

May 3, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ The nation’s manufacturing sector continued to expand for the third straight month in April, but the growth was less robust than in the previous month, corporate purchasing executives said in a survey released today.

The National Association of Purchasing Management reported its monthly index of business activity fell to 52.8 percent, down 1.5 percentage points from its March level.

``The manufacturing sector continued to improve in April. Both production and new orders remained positive and it appears that the manufacturing sector has significant momentum, with a much broader base of growth this month as 16 of 20 manufacturing industries were above the break-even line (of 50),″ said Norbert J. Ore, chairman of NAPM’s Business Survey Committee.

The NAPM considers any reading above 50 percent as a sign of growth in the industrial sector.

The organization assesses the health of the nation’s factories, and in turn the overall economy, through a monthly survey of its members. The trade group’s findings are widely followed by economists including Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan because they usually are the first indicator of how the economy performed in the just-ended month.

Prices jumped 6.7 percentage points to 49.9 percent, but still remained below their December 1997 level.

The strengthening of an order backlog index _ up for the second month in a row _ indicates manufacturing activity will continue to grow in the next two months, Ore said.

``The overall picture is one of continuing growth in manufacturing activity during the month of April,″ Ore said. ``Production and new orders remain quite positive and provide an indication that the manufacturing sector is gaining strength as we move toward the middle of 1999.″

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