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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

A gauge of U.S. manufacturing activity jumped to its highest level in nearly a year and a half last month as manufacturing firms said orders increased despite a resurgence in new coronavirus infections.

Yes, but: Job losses continue to mount in the industry and economists note that manufacturing surveys like this one from the Institute for Supply Management largely measure how much sentiment has increased rather than an actual tracking of revenue or new orders.

  • “After the scale of shutdowns we really should be seeing a large proportion of firms saying they are experiencing rising output,” James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, told Reuters.
  • “Jobs continue to be lost in the sector. With COVID-19 cases picking up, businesses are likely to remain cautious.”

Of note: Deutsche Bank’s chief international strategist Alan Ruskin points out in a note that recent manufacturing data "are apt to give a misleading perspective on overall activity, since select sectors impacted by social distancing have seen an unprecedented collapse in levels of activity that will vastly exceed the small improvements now seen in manufacturing."

  • "Importantly, because of the way diffusion indices are constructed around questions of whether things are improving, getting worse or the same, it is also expected that steady PMI near 50 are going to be associated with a much lower level of manufacturing output than it did before the virus-led downswing."

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. reports over 63,000 daily COVID-19 cases

A health worker handling a coronavirus test sample Oct. 15 in Roxbury, Mass. Photo: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

The U.S. reported 63,172 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the nation's highest daily count since July 31 when it saw more than 66,000 new cases in a single day, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Why it matters: Over 37,000 people are currently being hospitalized due to the virus in the U.S., while the country reported 951 new deaths from the virus. COVID-19 infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

Go deeper: The United States' stubbornly high coronavirus death rate

1 hour ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.