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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. manufacturing sector slowed in October to its lowest rate of growth since July, while a gauge of new orders hit its lowest level since January, an industry report showed on Thursday.
Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary or "flash" U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 56.2 from September's final reading of 57.5. Economists polled by Reuters had expected it to drop to 57.0.
A reading above 50 signals expansion in economic activity.
The new orders subindex dropped to its lowest level since January, falling to 57.1 from a final reading of 59.8 in September. Output fell to 58.0, the lowest since March, from 59.6 in September.
"The data will no doubt add to the view that policymakers should be in no rush to raise interest rates, with output and order book growth slowing and price pressures easing," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
"On the other hand, sustained strong job creation will raise worries that slack continues to be eroded, which could drive up inflation in the medium term," Williamson said.
The employment subindex eased slightly from September's level, which was the strongest reading of labor conditions in the manufacturing sector since March 2012.
Markit's "flash" reading is based on replies from about 85 percent of the U.S. manufacturers surveyed.
Reporting by Sam Forgione, Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Chizu Nomiyama