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US manufacturing index tumbles to two-year low in December

Staff Writer | January 4, 2019
Indicating a notable slowdown in the pace of growth in US manufacturing activity in the month of December, the Institute for Supply Management released a report showing a much bigger than expected drop by its index of activity in the manufacturing sector.
US manufacturing
America   The ISM said its purchasing managers index tumbled to 54.1
The ISM said its purchasing managers index tumbled to 54.1 in December after rising to 59.3 in November, slumping its lowest level since hitting 53.4 in November of 2016.

While a reading above 50 still indicates growth in manufacturing activity, economists had expected the index to show a more modest drop to a reading of 57.9.

The much bigger than expected decrease by the headline index partly reflected softening demand, as the new orders index plunged to 51.1 in December from 62.1 in November.

"Customer demand expansion softened quite notably in December, as the index retreated to an expansion level not seen since August 2016," said Timothy R. Fiore, Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

The report said the production index also slid to 54.3 in December from 60.6 in November, while the employment index fell to 56.2 from 58.4.

On the inflation front, the prices index tumbled to 54.9 in December from 60.7 in November, dropping to its lowest level since June of 2017.