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Factory activity slows in August: Markit

Robotic arms spot welds on the chassis of a Ford Transit Van under assembly at the Ford Claycomo Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri April 30, 2014. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector slowed to its weakest pace in almost two years in August, according to an industry report released on Friday.

Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 52.9 in August, its lowest since October 2013, from a final July reading of 53.8. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the August figure would be 54.0.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

Job creation also slowed in August, with the index at 52.2, its weakest since July 2014, down from a final July reading of 53.8.

"August’s survey highlights a lack of growth momentum and continued weak price pressures across the U.S. manufacturing sector, which adds some fuel to the dovish argument as policymakers weigh up tightening policy in September," said Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit.

"According to survey respondents, the strong dollar continued to put pressure on export sales and competitiveness, while heightened global economic uncertainty appeared to have dampened client spending both at home and abroad."

The index's output component fell to 53.7, its lowest since January 2014, from the July final reading of 55.3.

The manufacturing sector Purchasing Managers' Index is compiled by information services company Markit.

(Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)