MANUFACTURING activity slips for 12th straight month

Wednesday, August 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Activity in the nation's manufacturing sector declined for the 12th consecutive month in July, an industry trade group said Wednesday.

The National Association of Purchasing Management said its purchasing index fell in July to 43.6 from 44.7 percent in June. Analysts had been expecting a NAPM index of 44.5.

An index above 50 signifies growth in manufacturing, while a figure below 50 shows contraction.

``The manufacturing sector ... appears to continue to lack drivers that will stimulate recovery,'' said Norbert J. Ore, who oversees the Tempe, Ariz.-based association's monthly survey.

Higher energy prices and manufacturers' reluctance to making major capital investments were reflected in the index, he said.

The NAPM report is closely watched because it is one of the first indications of how the manufacturing sector is performing. The figures are based on a survey of purchasing executives who buy the raw materials for manufacturing at more than 350 industrial companies.

Separately, the Commerce Department said construction spending fell for the fourth straight month in June as spending for public building projects declined by 0.7 percent in June, the largest decrease in a year.

The markets were moderately higher following the release of the reports, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 24 points to 10,546 and the Nasdaq composite index up 32 points to 2,059.

The NAPM report also follows government's announcement Friday that the U.S. gross domestic product _ the country's total output of goods and services _ slowed to a 0.7 growth rate in the April-June quarter, the weakest performance in eight years.

Of the 20 industries in the manufacturing sector, just three _ rubber and plastic products; glass, stone and aggregate; and instruments and photographic equipment _ reported growth.