Manufacturing growth hits lowest level in 2 years

August 1, 2011 - 9:14 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A private trade group says manufacturing activity barely grew in July, falling to the weakest level since just after the recession ended.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, says its index of manufacturing activity fell to 50.9 percent in July from 55.3 percent in June. That's the lowest reading since July 2009, one month after the recession officially ended. Any level above 50 indicates growth.

Stocks fell after the report was released. They had been trading higher ahead of the report, based on expectations that Congress will approve a deal Monday to raise the nation's borrowing limit.

The index topped 60 for four straight months earlier this year. But manufacturing has stumbled in recent months.