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U.S. manufacturing activity slows in July

Staff Writer | August 1, 2016
U.S. manufacturing activity slowed in July as orders fell, while a drop in construction spending in June suggested a downward revision to the second-quarter economic growth estimate.
U.S. manufacturing
Working in America   ISM factory activity index slipped to 52.6
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity slipped 0.6 percentage point to a reading of 52.6 last month. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy.

Manufacturing remains constrained by the lagging effects of the dollar's rally and an oil price plunge between June 2014 and December 2015, which have hurt exports and undercut business spending.

Although the ISM index has remained above expansion territory for five consecutive months, so-called hard data on manufacturing has been generally weak amid soft business spending. Last month, manufacturers reported declines in new orders, export orders and order backlogs.

The Commerce Department said construction spending declined 0.6 percent to its lowest level since June 2015 after dipping 0.1 percent May. June marked the third straight month of declines in outlays.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 are reporting growth in July in the following order: Textile Mills; Printing & Related Support Activities; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; Wood Products; Furniture & Related Products; Chemical Products; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; and Computer & Electronic Products.

The seven industries reporting contraction in July listed in order are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Plastics & Rubber Products; Machinery; Primary Metals; Transportation Equipment; and Paper Products.