Manufacturing in the U.S. shrank in June, but the shrinking slowed for the sixth consecutive month, according to data released Wednesday by the Institute for Supply Management.

The trade group's factory index -- a result of a survey of U.S. manufacturers -- rose in June to 44.8 from May's 42.8. Any number under 50 indicates that manufacturing activity is contracting, and in one sign of lingering weakness, the reduction in order backlogs continued to quicken.

Still, the overall June readings were better than expected, and the highest since August 2008.

Also Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors said pending home sales moved higher in May for the fourth straight month, and the monthly window into auto sales revealed strengthening sales in that industry.

The positive data pushed stock indices in the U.S. higher Wednesday before a late selloff trimmed some of those gains.
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