WASHINGTON -- The manufacturing sector continued to strengthen in July, according to a purchasing managers report issued yesterday, but separate Commerce Department reports showed slim gains in personal income and construction spending in June.

The mixed batch of statistics was typical of recent indicators that analysts have seized on to argue either that the U.S. economy is slowing or that it is still moving ahead strongly. On Friday, the department estimated that U.S. output rose at an annual rate of 3.7% in the second quarter, but much of the gain was the result of swelling business inventories.

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