WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. factory activity grew last month at its slowest pace since May 2013 as manufacturers pared their stockpiles and cut jobs.

WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. factory activity grew last month at its slowest pace since May 2013 as manufacturers pared their stockpiles and cut jobs.

The Institute for Supply Management says its index of factory activity slipped to 50.1 in October from 50.2 in September. The figures barely signal growth, which is any reading above 50.

A measure of hiring fell sharply, from 50.5 to 47.6. That means manufacturers cut jobs last month.

Still, the report contained some bright signs: New orders jumped, suggesting that business may pick up in coming months. And a gauge of production rose for the first time since July.

U.S. manufacturers have been squeezed this year as a strong dollar and weak economies in China and other key foreign markets have cut into exports.