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Markit U.S. Manufacturing Index Fell to 55.5 in March From 57.1

March 24 (Bloomberg) -- The Markit Economics preliminary index of U.S. manufacturing decreased to 55.5 in March from 57.1 a month earlier, the London-based group said today.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion. This month’s reading was the second-highest since January 2013. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 19 economists was 56.5, with estimates ranging from 54 to 58.

The group’s new-orders index declined to 58 from 59.6 in February. Employment also continued to grow at a slower pace in March.

The Markit index is based on a survey of purchasing managers at more than 600 American manufacturers and has an 85 percent to 90 percent response rate.

Other reports today showed China’s manufacturing industry weakened in March for a fifth straight month and growth at euro-area factories and service providers held close to the fastest since 2011.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index for China from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit dropped to 48.1, compared with the 48.7 median estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News and February’s final 48.5 figure.

In the euro zone, indexes for both industries based on surveys of purchasing managers were little changed from February, Markit said in a statement. A composite gauge slipped to 53.2 from 53.3 in February, matching the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 26 economists. The index has been above 50 since July.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Carlos Torres at ctorres2@bloomberg.net

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