US factory activity expands in June, jobs decline


U.S. manufacturing activity grew in June behind a pickup in new orders and stronger production. The increase suggests factories could help the economy in the second half of the year.

The Institute for Supply Management says its index of factory activity increased to 50.9 in June, up from 49 in the previous month. May's reading was the lowest in four years. A reading above 50 suggests growth, while those below indicate contraction.

One negative in the June survey: Factories cut jobs last month.

Manufacturing has slowed this year after providing crucial support to the economy for the first three years after recession ended in June 2009. Europe's slump has weighed heavily on U.S. exports. And businesses cut back on their investment in machinery and equipment in the first quarter.

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