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US manufacturing activity slows in February as coronavirus spreads around the world


Manufacturing activity in the U.S. grew at a slower-than-expected pace last month as the coronavirus outbreak dampened sentiment in the sector, data from the Institute for Supply Management showed.

The ISM manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index fell to 50.1 in February from 50.9 in January. That’s the PMI’s lowest level since late 2019, when it fell below 50. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected the ISM manufacturing PMI to come in at 50.8 for February. A reading above 50 indicates expansion while a print below 50 shows contraction. Production fell by 4 percentage points last month while the new orders index fell to 49.8 from 52 in the previous month. 

The slow growth in U.S. manufacturing last month coincided with the coronavirus spreading throughout China and the rest of the world, denting expectations over global economic growth and corporate profits.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite all posted last week their worst weekly performances since the financial crisis. They also tumbled into correction territory, down more than 10% from all-time highs set February.

Stocks tried to rebound from those steep losses on Monday, with the major averages rising slightly in volatile trading. 

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