U.S. Manufacturing Activity Index Reaches Lowest Level in Over 2 Years

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing Index, which measures U.S. manufacturing activity, reached its lowest level in over two years and expanded at a slower-than-expected pace during the month of February, according to data released on Friday.

Economists polled by Refinitiv expected the index to fall to 55.5, but the final number came in at 54.2 for February versus 56.6 for January. The index level represents its lowest since November 2016.

Based on the latest ISM data, a decline in new orders, production, employment and prices all brought down the index.

“Comments from the panel reflect continued expanding business strength, supported by notable demand and output, although both were softer than the prior month,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM, said in a statement. “Consumption (production and employment) continued to expand but fell a combined 8.9 points from the previous month’s levels.”

“Exports continue to expand, at slightly stronger rates compared to January. The manufacturing sector continues to expand, but inputs and prices indicate easing of supply chain constraints,” Fiore added.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 200 points before settling to just under 50 points as of 12:45 p.m. ET following the release of the latest ISM data. The S&P 500 was up 0.31 percent while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.49 percent.