- But the sector slipped deeper into a recession in November, with a key gauge of factory activity falling for a fourth straight month.
- New orders and employment in the sector dropped at a faster pace last month.
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Manufacturing slipped deeper into a recession in November, with a key gauge of factory activity falling for a fourth straight month.
The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its factory activity index fell to 48.1 from 48.3 a month earlier, sliding back toward a decade-low seen in September. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
New orders and employment in the sector dropped at a faster pace last month. A tit-for-tat tariff dispute between the Trump administration and China has piled onto pressure in the manufacturing sector, which has also grappled with a broader slowdown in factory activity abroad.
"Global trade remains the most significant cross-industry issue," said Timothy R. Fiore, the chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "Overall, sentiment this month is neutral regarding near-term growth."
President Donald Trump won over Rust Belt states in 2016 on pledges to revive American manufacturing, arguing that tariffs would ultimately help win fairer policies for the sector. Select factories benefited from those measures in 2017, but the support was only temporary.
A spate of manufacturing companies has over the past two years requested relief from those tariffs, which have raised costs for importers and disrupted global supply chains. Manufacturers shed 2,000 jobs in September, with those losses concentrated in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
"We doubt the gap will close anytime soon, absent a resolution to the trade war," said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
The US and China announced an interim trade agreement in October, but have clashed over key economic stipulations. Manufacturing accounts for less than 12% of gross domestic product, but it is deeply tied to broader activity in the economy.
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