U.S. Manufacturing Index for April Unexpectedly Declines

June 3, 2013

The nation’s manufacturing output unexpectedly shrank to its lowest level in four years in May, according to a new report, as slowing export growth and tight fiscal policy caused factories to slow production.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index tumbled to 49 from 50.7 in April — indicating a contraction in manufacturing for the first time since November 2012, when a massive storm hit the East Coast. The index dipped to its lowest level since June 2009, when it registered 45.8 percent. (A reading below 50 indicates a shrinking manufacturing sector).

The slowdown surprised many analysts, who nonetheless remained optimistic that manufacturing output would increase in the second half of the year.

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