U.S. manufacturing cools, but underlying momentum remains

Mon Dec 1, 2014 12:44pm EST
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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. factory activity moderated in November, but sustained gains in new orders and a rebound in exports suggested the economy remained on a firmer footing despite slowing global growth.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Monday its index of national factory activity fell to 58.7 last month as the pace of restocking slowed. The index had touched a 3-1/2-year high of 59 in October.

A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the nation's manufacturing sector.

"The world economy may be faltering, but that is not stopping the U.S. economy from improving," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. 

A separate report from financial data firm Markit showed its U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers index fell to a 10-month low of 54.8 in November from a reading of 55.9 in October. But this survey has a short history, making it a less reliable gauge of U.S. manufacturing activity.

Other reports showed manufacturing growth across Asia and Europe easing in November.

There had been concerns that weak global demand was undercutting U.S. manufacturing after data last week showed a second straight month of declines in planned business spending on equipment in October.

U.S. stocks were trading lower on concerns about the global economy. Consumer stocks also were pressured due to disappointing in-store retail sales for the Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally a major shopping period.   Continued...

Robotic arms spot welds on the chassis of a Ford Transit Van under assembly at the Ford Claycomo Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri April 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Dave Kaup