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Expand chart
Data: IHS Markit, ISM; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The IHS Markit and ISM manufacturing indexes diverged sharply again in December, with ISM's gauge showing the worst manufacturing report in a decade and Markit's showing a solid reading well above 50, which is the line separating expansion from contraction.

What's happening: One reason for this divergence, highlighted by IHS Markit's chief business economist Chris Williamson in a recent blog, may be that IHS explicitly tells respondents to "confine their reporting to US facilities/factories."

  • "ISM data could therefore be more heavily influenced by global conditions facing ... US-owned companies than the IHS Markit data," Williamson writes.

State of play: Markit's global manufacturing index and the overwhelming majority of its indexes outside the U.S. declined sharply in December, but the U.S. held firm, dipping just 0.2 points from November's total.

What it means: Markit's gauge may more accurately reflect the situation in the U.S. However, because global supply chains are so interconnected, the situation for American manufacturing companies may be as dire as the ISM's survey suggests.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Bipartisan group of senators seeks coronavirus stimulus deal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At least eight Republican and Democratic senators have formed an informal working group aimed at securing new coronavirus spending during the lame-duck session, a move favored by President-elect Biden, two sources familiar with the group tell Axios.

Why it matters: It may be the most significant bipartisan step toward COVID relief in months.

FCC chairman to depart in January

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ajit Pai will leave his post as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Jan. 20, the agency said today.

Why it matters: Pai's Inauguration Day departure is in keeping with agency tradition, and could set up the Biden administration with a 2-1 Democratic majority at the FCC if the Senate fails to confirm another Trump nominee during the lame-duck period.