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U.S. factory activity eases; slowest pace since October 2013: 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 eased in June, hitting its slowest pace since October 2013, according to an industry report released on Wednesday.

Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index declined to 53.6 in June, its lowest since October 2013, from 54.0 in May. The June reading was up slightly from a preliminary reading of 53.4.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

The index's employment component rose to 55.5 in June, the highest level since September 2014, from 54.6 in May. Output slowed in June to 53.9, the lowest level since January 2014, from 55.2 the month before.

"Purchasing managers are reporting the slowest rate of manufacturing expansion for over a year and a half, suggesting that the economy is slowing again," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

"The slowdown is largely linked to a third consecutive monthly fall in exports, in turn attributed by many companies to the strong dollar undermining international competitiveness."

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

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)