May 1, 2013 11:42 AM by Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. factory activity expanded at a slower pace in April compared with March as manufacturers pulled back sharply on hiring and cut their stockpiles.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of manufacturing activity slipped to 50.7, down from 51.3 in March and the slowest pace this year. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
A measure of hiring fell to 50.2, the lowest level since November. But several aspects of the report were encouraging: Measures of new orders and production rose. Order backlogs also grew at a faster pace.
The government, meanwhile, reports that spending on U.S. construction projects fell in March as the biggest drop in government projects in more than a decade overwhelmed strength in home building.
The Commerce Department says construction spending fell 1.7 percent in March, compared with February. It marked the second decline in the past three months. January activity plunged a record 4 percent, which represented a downward revision from a previous estimate of a 2.1 percent decline.
Even with the recent weakness, construction activity was 4.8 percent higher in March than a year ago at a seasonally adjusted $856.7 billion.
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