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Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Surveys showed global manufacturing, the lifeblood of many of the world's economies, was flat in March — the first time it has not fallen since April 2018.

"The steady result was achieved in no small part thanks to a better performance from China. China led a regional divide, with northeast Asia generally improving. While in contrast, Central Europe was notably weak, and North American manufacturing, at least based off the PMIs, was also losing some growth momentum, most especially in Canada and Mexico."
— Alan Ruskin, chief international strategist at Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note to clients.
  • China's manufacturing sector returned to growth in March, with its purchasing managers index rising above 50, after 4 months of contraction.
  • In the U.S., the rate of expansion in manufacturing was the weakest since June 2017. "A futher deterioraton in the manufacturing PMI suggests the factory sector is acting as an increasing drag on the US economy," said Chris Williamson, Chief Business Economist at IHS Markit, which released the study.
  • Japan's Nikkei-Markit manufacturing PMI for March capped the worst quarterly performance in the sector since the second quarter of 2016. Another study, the Bank of Japan's quarterly survey of major companies, found confidence had its biggest drop in more than 6 years.
  • Eurozone manufacturing readings were much worse than expected last month, as factory activity contracted at the fastest pace in nearly 6 years. However, the metric remained in positive territory.

Go deeper

Updated 13 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

15 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.