U.S. factory activity slowed in March amid a decline in new orders, but growth in the manufacturing sector remains underpinned by strong domestic and global economies.
Other data on Monday showed a marginal increase in construction spending in February. The reports support economists’ view that economic growth slowed in the first quarter. Economic growth in the first three months of the year tends to be weak because of a seasonal quirk.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity fell to a reading of 59.3 last month from 60.8 in February. A reading above 50 in the ISM index indicates growth in manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy.
The survey’s production sub-index fell 1.0 point to a reading of 61.0 in March. A gauge of new orders dropped to 61.9 last month from 64.2 in February. A measure of factory employment dropped 2.4 points to 57.3 in March.
Seventeen industries including fabricated metal products, computer and electronic products, machinery and chemical products reported growth last month. Apparel, leather and allied products was the only industry reporting a decrease.
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