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February 1, 2021 10:45 AM, EST

Factories Grow at Slower Pace in January

cigar maker Zeida Hernandez makes cigars at the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. in Tampa. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

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SILVER SPRING, Md. — American factories grew in January, but at a slower pace than December.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Feb. 1 that its gauge of manufacturing activity fell to 58.7% in January from 60.7% the previous month. The December reading was the index’s highest since it stood at 60.8% in August 2018.

Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. The January figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the eighth straight month after contracting in March, April and May.

The U.S. economy was broadsided by the coronavirus outbreak from April through June, but since then manufacturing largely has recovered. The services sector, which includes restaurants, bars and the travel industry, has been harder hit and still is struggling as people opt to stay home.

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