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Economic Report: U.S. factory activity stumbles in March to lowest level in 18 months, ISM survey shows

The numbers: The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing PMI, a closely followed index of U.S.-based manufacturing activity, slipped to 57.1% in March from 58.6% in the prior month, the research group said Friday. This is the lowest level since September 2020.

Given strength in the regional manufacturing surveys in March, economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a slight improvement to 59%.

 Any number above 50% signifies growth. This is the 22nd straight month the index has been above the breakeven rate.

Key details: The new-orders index fell 7.9 points to 53.8%, and the production index fell 4 points to 54.5%,the ISM reported.

Released after the jobs report, the employment index rose 3.4 points to 56.3%. The prices index shot up 11.5 points to 87.1%.

Big picture: Manufacturing continues at a solid pace despite supply-chain problems. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said earlier this week that businesses still are frustrated by bottlenecks in their supply chains. 

Market reaction: Stocks


were higher on Friday on the back of a strong job report. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note

rose to 2.446%.

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