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Manufacturing grew for 22nd straight month in May

WASHINGTON — U.S. manufacturing activity expanded in May at the slowest pace in 20 months, the latest sign that the sharp rise in energy prices is hampering economic growth.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, says its index of manufacturing activity fell to 53.5 percent in May from 60.4 in April. While that marked the 22nd straight month of growth, the decline was the biggest since 1984. Any reading above 50 indicates growth.

The index had topped 60 for the first four months of the year. Manufacturers had increased production to meet overseas demand for computers and other long-lasting equipment.

But high prices for oil and other commodities have damped consumer spending, leading to less demand for factory goods.