WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories were a little less busy last month.
The Institute of Purchasing Managers' manufacturing index slipped to 52.7 last month from 53.5 in June. Economists had expected the index to remain unchanged. Any reading above 50 indicates growth.
The index, which was supposed to be published at 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, was "inadvertently released" early, institute spokeswoman Kristina Cahill said by email.
Exports are contracting, partly because a strong dollar makes U.S. goods more expensive. Hiring slowed at U.S. factories last month, but production and new orders rose.
The Commerce Department reported last Monday that orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket goods rose sharply in June, though the gain was driven by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft — a volatile category.
The U.S. economy is plugging along. It grew at a 2.3 percent annual pace from April through June, rebounding from a bitter winter. Unemployment fell in June to 5.3 percent, the lowest it's been in seven years.