U.S. Factory Gauge Unexpectedly Falls to Lowest Since 2009
U.S. Factory Gauge Unexpectedly Falls to Lowest Since 2009
US manufacturing slows sharply in December: ISM
04 January, 2020, 00:27
"The ISM manufacturing index came in at 47.2 for December, signaling that industrial activity shrank in each of the last five months of the year".
Manufacturing activity in the US sank in December to its lowest level in more than a decade as prospects for an end to the long-running trade battle with China remain unclear. Last month's level was the lowest since June 2009, when the US economy was at the tail end of the Great Recession.
The production index plunged almost six percentage points, and new orders dropped again - both falling to their lowest points since April 2009, the survey showed.
A reading below 50 indicates the sector is in contraction, and December's reading marked the fifth straight month below that benchmark level.
"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.
While America's factories still struggled at the end of 2019, the sector is showing early signs of improvement globally.
In its report, the ISM noted that just three of the 18 industries it monitors said their businesses expanded in December. ISM's sub-indices also registered multi-year lows in December. The nation's two most-watched manufacturing surveys pointed in different directions in November as well, underscoring disagreement among economists and investors on which index offers a more accurate picture of the sector.
Last month, the two sides announced they had reached agreement on a Phase 1 deal, and U.S. President Donald Trump this week said the accord would be signed on January 15 in Washington, and talks to cement a wider Phase 2 deal would begin shortly.
An index of prices paid showed input costs rising for the first time since May as the gauge of supplier deliveries held above 50, suggesting shipments of inputs are slowing. "Sales are decent, but we're wondering what 2020 will bring", said one manager from the transportation equipment industry. "We're still in that range of slight contraction to slight expansion".
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