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US Manufacturing Industry Slows in January: ISM

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US Manufacturing Industry Slows in January: ISM

Manufacturing output in the world’s largest economy slowed in January, as severe weather disrupted new order growth.

The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of national manufacturing activity fell in January to 51.3, an eight-month low. The index rose to a high of 57 last month. A median estimate of economists polled by Thomson Reuters forecasted a slight dip to 56. Despite the losses, the US manufacturing industry has been above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction for eight consecutive months.

US manufacturers reported declines in almost every category. New orders fell at the sharpest rate in 33 years, while production and employment also plunged. Eleven of the 18 manufacturing sectors reported declines last month, ISM data showed. Gains were led by plastic and rubber products, primary metals and textile mills. Of the seven industries to report declines, non-metallic mineral products was the hardest hit, followed by petroleum and coal products and apparel.

“Poor weather impacted outbound and inbound shipments,” said one manager from the fabricated metal products industry. “Good finish to 2013, but slow start to 2014, mostly attributed to weather,” said another manager from petroleum and coal products.

A separate manufacturing gauge from Markit Group showed a slower decline in manufacturing output. Markit’s PMI reading of 53.7 was the lowest in three months, as output and new orders eased from the previous month. Meanwhile, new export orders fell below the 50 mark for the first time since September 2013.

Bad weather notwithstanding, the goods producing sector is on pace to expand robustly in the first quarter of 2014. This will in-turn sustain a steady pace of job creation heading into the spring. The US economy is believed to have generated around 185,000 jobs last month, according to forecasts. The Labor Department will release official employment data Friday.

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