Midwest business barometer drops in March

CHICAGO Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:58am EDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The pace of business activity in the Midwest slowed more than expected in March as employment and new orders dropped from elevated levels last month, a report showed on Friday.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago's business barometer slipped to 62.2, from 64.0 in February. Economists had expected a reading of 63.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the regional economy.

New orders dropped to 63.3 from a near one-year high of 69.2 in February. The employment component of the index fell to 56.3, from a more than 15-year high of 64.2.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)