NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. manufacturing growth slowed in January for the first time in three months, hobbled by new orders, though a recent trend of stronger growth appeared to be intact, an industry report showed on Thursday.
Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index dipped to 53.7 from December's reading of 55.0. Economists polled by Reuters expected no change.
Slower rates of output and new order growth were the main factors behind the fall, the survey showed. Output slipped to 53.4 from 57.5 while new orders fell to 54.1 from 56.1.
Even so, the rate of overall growth remained "reassuringly robust," according to Markit chief economist Chris Williamson, who added that output growth of around 2 percent per quarter was generating about 10,000 new manufacturing jobs a month.
A reading above 50 in the main index or the sub indexes indicates expansion. The pace of growth started to quicken in the middle of 2013, hitting a 10-month high in November.
Williamson said the survey suggested a dip in U.S. payrolls in December was likely a "temporary blip.
Markit's "flash" reading is based on replies from about 85 percent of the U.S. manufacturers surveyed. A final reading will be released on the first business day of February.