US manufacturing activity slowed slightly in July amid weaker export orders and a continued drag from falling oil prices, the Institute for Supply Management reported Monday.
The ISM purchasing managers index on the manufacturing sector fell to 52.7 in July from 53.5 in June. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Analysts on average had expected the PMI would rise to 53.7.
The July level was the lowest since April and remained well below the 12-month average of 54.4.
New orders grew 0.5 percent and production surged 2.0 percent, while prices slumped 5.5 percent on the back of falling crude oil.
Both new export orders and imports fell 1.5 percent.
Eleven of the 18 manufacturing surveys reported growth, led by textile mills; paper products; and apparel and leather products.
"Comments from the panel reflect a combination of optimism mixed with uncertainties about international markets and the impacts of the continuing decline in oil prices," the ISM said in a statement.
A survey respondent in the petroleum and coal products sector told the institute: "Oil price decline continues to negatively impact Oil & Gas industry in North America as many projects are not economically viable. Oil & Gas jobs outlook is in retrenchment."
Fears related to the avian flu outbreak in the poultry industry are "killing exports," said a respondent in the food, beverage and tobacco products sector.