The nation's manufacturing sector expanded at a slower-than-expected pace in March, marking the second consecutive month of growth, a trade group said Monday.

The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index registered 50.9 in March, below the February reading of 52.3 and Wall Street's expectation of 51.

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A reading above 50 indicates growth for the sector, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction.

The ISM's manufacturing sector index has bounced above and below 50 for several months, an indication of the overall economy's uncertain path. It showed contraction in November, rebounded in December, fell back again in January, only to expand again in February.

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