(Adds analyst quote, background)
NEW YORK, March 31 The pace of business activity
in the U.S. Midwest fell more than expected in March to its
lowest since August, resuming its recent trend of slower
regional growth, a report showed on Monday.
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business
barometer was 55.9, down from 59.8 in February. Economists'
median forecast in a Reuters poll was 59.0.
While this regional business gauge fell, analysts said the
domestic manufacturing sector remained on a moderate growth path
despite rough winter weather and hints of softening overseas
"Manufacturing is growing, not booming," said Jim
O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in
Valhalla, New York.
The Chicago PMI figure is one of the regional readings
analysts use to project the national factory reading from the
Institute for Supply Management.
The business group will release its March manufacturing
activity report on Tuesday at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT). Economists
polled by Reuters expected the March figure to come in at 54.0,
up slightly from 53.2 in February.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and