PhotoThe manufacturing sector of the economy expanded in April for a second straight month -- but just barely.

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) registered 50.8%, down 1.0% from March. A reading above 50% indicates the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50% suggests contraction.

The two months of growth followed five consecutive months of contraction.

A closer look at the PMI shows the New Orders Index was down 2.5%, the Production Index dipped 1.1%, and inventories of raw materials were off 1.5%. The Employment Index, meanwhile, was up 1.1%, and the Prices Index surged 7.5%.

Industry performance

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 reported growth last month:

  1. Wood Products;
  2. Printing & Related Support Activities;
  3. Paper Products;
  4. Plastics & Rubber Products;
  5. Primary Metals;
  6. Fabricated Metal Products;
  7. Chemical Products;
  8. Machinery;
  9. Computer & Electronic Products;
  10. Nonmetallic Mineral Products; and
  11. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products.

The four industries reporting contraction were:

  1. Petroleum & Coal Products;
  2. Transportation Equipment;
  3. Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and
  4. Furniture & Related Products.

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