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Financial News: U.S. Manufacturing Index Unexpectedly Drops To Ten-Year Lo

U.S. Manufacturing Index Unexpectedly Drops To Ten-Year Low

01/03/2020 - 10:27:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Reflecting lingering concerns about global trade, the Institute for Supply Management released a report on Friday showing U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted at a faster rate in the month of December.

The ISM said its purchasing managers index slid to 47.2 in December from 48.1 in November, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction in manufacturing activity.

The modest decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the manufacturing index to inch up to 49.0.

With the unexpected drop, the index pointed to the fastest rate of contraction in manufacturing activity since June of 2009.

"Global trade remains the most significant cross-industry issue, but there are signs that several industry sectors will improve as a result of the phase-one trade agreement between the U.S. and China," said Timothy Fiore, Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

The unexpected decrease by the headline index was partly due to a notable acceleration in the pace of contraction in production, as the production index plunged to 43.2 in December from 49.1 in November.

The report also showed a slightly faster pace of contraction in new orders, with the new orders index dipping to 46.8 in December from 47.2 in November.

The employment index also fell to 45.1 in December from 46.6 in November, suggesting the manufacturing sector lost jobs at faster rate.

Meanwhile, the report said the prices index surged up to 51.7 in December from 46.7 in November, pointing to a turnaround in raw materials prices after six consecutive months of decreases.

The ISM is scheduled to release a separate report next Tuesday on activity in the service sector in the month of December.

The non-manufacturing index is expected to rise to 54.5 in December after dipping to 53.9 in November, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in service sector activity.

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