Updated Dec 2, 2019 - Economy

Key manufacturing index contracts for the fourth straight month

The ISM's November manufacturing report released Monday contracted for the fourth straight month.

Why it matters: It's an unexpected decline as most industry watchers expected the reading to rise. Surveys have shown manufacturing output declining for more than a year.

  • The ISM index sits at 48.1 for November. Anything under 50 on the reading indicates that manufacturing activity is declining.
  • Manufacturing has added just 2,000 net jobs in 2019, Barron's notes. That's due not only to a slowing pace of job growth from 2018's 264,000 manufacturing jobs added, but also to net job losses the past two months, including 36,000 net job losses in October.

Of note: China's manufacturing data has been steadily improving with a private and a government survey both showing the sector growing more than expected last month. This was after six straight months of the government's metric showing contraction.

The big picture: The most important piece of U.S. manufacturing data will likely not be the ISM's reading — it will be the Labor Department's November U.S. nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.

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