U.S. manufacturing closed out a tumultuous year with the weakest monthly performance since the end of the recession, with orders shrinking and factories continuing to dial back production. The Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers’ index fell to 47.2 in December from 48.1, the fifth straight month of contraction and missing estimates for a rise in a Bloomberg survey of economists, according to a report Friday. It was the worst reading since June 2009 and marked the eighth decline in the last nine months. Readings below 50 indicate activity is shrinking.
The deterioration was driven by the weakest gauges of new orders and production since April 2009. The data show American factories remain plagued by pullbacks in business investment at home, softer demand throughout the world and, until recently, an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.