U.S. manufacturing softened a touch in June but remained at solid levels, a survey released on Thursday showed, and inflation pressures eased.

The Institute for Supply Management (search) said its index of national factory activity fell in June to 61.1 from 62.8 in May. That was right in line with economists' forecasts made last week, but markets had been braced for a softer reading after a weak survey of Midwestern businesses.

Any reading above 50 points to growth. Other readings of the factory sector have softened recently, including orders for costly durable goods.

The employment index eased to 59.7 in June from 61.9, while the prices paid index dropped to 81.0 from 86.0 in May, as commodity prices fell back.

The ISM index is compiled from monthly responses by purchasing executives at more than 400 industrial companies, ranging from textiles and chemicals to paper and computers.