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U.S. factory activity expands in July: Markit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in July, though the pace of expansion eased as new orders and employment also grew at slower paces, an industry report showed on Thursday.

Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index was 56.3 in July, down from the June reading of 57.3 and below analyst expectations for a reading of 57.5.

A reading above 50 signals expansion in economic activity.

The output subindex dipped slightly, to 60.4 from 61 in June, a level that had been its highest since April 2010. The employment gauge fell to its weakest level since September, dropping to 51.2 from 54.

"The data suggest the sector is growing at an annualized rate of roughly 8 percent as we moved into the second half of the year," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit. "The growth rebound that the survey has signaled for the second quarter therefore looks to have been sustained into the third quarter."

A read on new orders fell from June, though it remained in expansionary territory.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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