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U.S. April factory activity growth slows slightly: Markit

Workers at South Carolina Boeing construct a 787 Dreamliner for Air India at the plant's final assembly building in North Charleston, South Carolina December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Randall Hill

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. manufacturing activity slowed for a second straight month in April, though the rate of growth remained strong, an industry report showed on Thursday.

Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index was 55.4 in April, down slightly from 55.5 in March but even with last week's preliminary read.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion in the sector.

While the index remained below February's level, which had been the highest since May 2010, it was comfortably ahead of January's 53.7 reading, suggesting the effects of a harsh winter have started to fade.

The employment subindex fell from to 53.7 from 53.9 in March, the lowest in three month, Markit said, though the output component rose to 58.2 from 57.5. The new orders component also rose month-over-month.

"The upturn in manufacturing output and new orders signaled by the survey suggest that the economy should rebound after the disappointing 0.1 percent annualized GDP growth rate seen in the first three months of the year," said Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)