Updated Feb 22, 2024 - Economy

Why the U.S. economy looked better than global peers in February

Illustration of snowflakes made of percent signs.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The U.S. economy looked better than some global peers' this month. An early read of economic activity shows steadiness alongside cooler prices, while activity in Europe remains sluggish.

What's new: A key survey shows cost pressures for manufacturers and service businesses eased notably in February as both sides of the economy continued to expand.

By the numbers: An early read of S&P Global's composite index of purchase managers ticked down just slightly to 51.4 — but remains above the level of 50 that suggests the economy is expanding.

  • But the downtick was largely a result of a moderate slowdown in services. There was good news for manufacturers, however: That component soared to 51.5 — well above January, and the sharpest upturn for manufacturers since September 2022.

The other side: Across the Atlantic, the Euro area's parallel measure continued to signal activity was contracting, though at a slower pace.

  • It shows that the eurozone's "deepest contraction since 2013 ... has persisted into 2024," S&P Global said, noting some signs of moderating.

What they're saying: In the U.S., it is "welcome news that both manufacturing and services are expanding again for the first time in three months," Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global, said in a release.

  • He added the expansion "is being accompanied by subdued price pressures."

Of note: On the employment side in the U.S., overall businesses reported an increase in their workforces, though at a muted pace.

  • A separate release Thursday morning from the Department of Labor showed jobless claims were the fewest in a month last week — a sign of still low layoffs across the economy.
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