WASHINGTON, D.C.: US manufacturing activity sputtered in April, falling to near the no-growth line in the ailing sector after mostly contracting for the past six months.
The manufacturing sector has been puttering along, hampered by slow global growth and the impact of the strong dollar on exports.
The Institute for Supply Management said its purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector fell to 50.8 in April from 51.8 in March.
The one-point April slide was larger than the 0.4 point dip consensus estimate of analysts, and brought the PMI index closer to striking distance of the 50 level that divides growth and contraction.
Before March, the PMI index had been in contraction territory since October, with the five-month streak the longest stretch of its kind since 2009 amid the Great Recession, according to Briefing.com.
The April data showed new orders, a key driver of activity, fell a hefty 2.5 points to 55.8, but that was after a large gain in March, and production also slowed.
The employment index improved but still remained in contraction.
Of the 18 manufacturing industries surveyed, only 11 reported growth in April, led mainly by wood, printing and paper products.
Reflecting the downturn in the energy industry amid low prices, petroleum and coal products were the worst hit among the four manufacturing industries in the red.
“With the value of the dollar having moved lower since the beginning of the year and with financial stress largely having abated, we expect manufacturing output to move largely sideways this year before eventually returning to a modest positive trend,” said Rob Martin of Barclays Research.