The Markit Economics preliminary July index of U.S. manufacturing improved slightly from the weakest reading since October 2013.
The gauge rose to 53.8 from a June level of 53.6, the London-based group said Friday. A figure above 50 for the purchasing managers’ measure indicates expansion. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for no change from a month earlier. Estimates ranged from 53 to 54.5.
While the group’s orders gauge rose to a three-month high of 55 in July from 54.7, its measure of factory employment grew at the slowest pace since April.
“Companies saw output and order book growth regain a little momentum at the start of the third quarter, but the overall pace of expansion was nevertheless the second-weakest seen since the government shutdown of 2013,” Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said in a statement. “Manufacturing has been stuck in a lower gear.”
The Markit measure is based on replies from about 85 percent to 90 percent of companies in a poll of more than 600 American manufacturers.